A massive fire broke out Thursday night at an under-construction apartment building in downtown Raleigh, at the site of the former Greyhound Terminal.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Raleigh Fire and Police Department personnel responded to a multi-alarm fire on Harrington Street between Lane and Jones streets, about a block away from the 42nd Street Oyster Bar.
Fire was consuming an apartment building under construction. Fire crews surrounded the complex, dumping water from extended ladders to try to keep the flames from jumping to nearby buildings.
“You don’t expect to walk outside and see a towering inferno,” said Scott Shook, president of the North Carolina Community Colleges Board, who was eating dinner at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar when the fire erupted just after 10 p.m. Thursday.
The flames ignited surrounding vegetation, spreading to nearby utility poles and the roof of the Sutton Insurance building on West Jones Street.
Raleigh police officials said there are no reported injuries, and said there are no indication that anyone is trapped in the building.
Pedro Tapia of Bunn, who works for Baker Roofing, said he was at Cameron Village when he saw the fire. He recognized the crane among the flames as being from the project he’d been working and drove downtown because of his concern about equipment left at the location. His crew was last there on Saturday and were scheduled to return next Tuesday. He said the crane collapsed as he arrived.
“We pretty much lost a lot of money there. I wonder how it happened,” Tapia said.
Those enjoying a night out in the Glenwood South district heard explosions before they saw a fire break out.
“We heard two booms and then a crane fell,” said Justin Archangel, 21, on Spring Break from Washington, D.C. “We saw sparks flying in the air from two blocks away.”
Gusts of wind blew debris and smoke for blocks in each direction. Police worked to push bystanders back, warning them of the danger of sparks and flying objects.
Edenton Street was littered with charred bits of debris.”There were chunks burning about three feet wide,” said Torrin McBynum, 45, of Garner. “One of them went under my sweater.”
Residents of nearby apartments were jolted awake by light and noise. Power was out in nearby apartment complexes and traffic lights.
Andrew Puckett, 26, lives on the fifth floor of Link Apartments, located adjacent to the fire site. He was in bed when a coworker called him sometime after 10 p.m. He ignored the call and the sound of neighbors rumbling in the hallway.
“I heard all the noise but I was like screw it, I want to sleep,” Puckett said. He eventually stirred and took refuge at MoJoe’s Burger Joint on Glenwood South.
“It was surreal because I have a window into the courtyard, and saw this orange light,” Puckett said.
Early site plans for the apartment project called for a six-story, 250-unit apartment complex.
Staff writers Josh Shaffer, Paul A. Specht, Richard Stradling and Sarah Nagem contributed to this story.