A fire that investigators linked to an improperly discarded cigarette put 12 people out of their homes in a two-story building in the Crystal Village Apartments on Camellia Drive on Sunday afternoon, the fire department reported.
The fire at 2620 Camellia Drive, in the northwest part of the city, was reported shortly after 3:30 p.m., Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said.
The first firefighters to arrive saw flames on a second-floor balcony and smoke coming out the building near the roof.
It took about 25 minutes to put out the fire, Iannuzzi said.
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Durham firefighters credited an off-duty firefighter from Salisbury with searching the building while they were on the way, making sure anyone inside knew there was a fire.
One apartment had severe fire damage, three apartments had damage from smoke and water, and others lost power because firefighters had electric service to the building cut off so they could work safely.
The American Red Cross was called in to help nine of the 12 people find shelter, Iannuzzi said.