Firefighters and police were still on the scene of a five-alarm fire Friday morning that tore through a downtown Raleigh apartment building under construction, damaging several other buildings off of West Jones Street Thursday night in the process.
Police officers were maintaining a perimeter around the fire site and firefighters were still spraying hot spots with water to keep the fire from re-igniting while investigators try to determine the cause of the blaze. The fire appears to have begun on the second floor of the framework building.
The fire resulted in the total loss of the originating structure and the damage to the surrounding buildings is being assessed.
Adjacent buildings lost windows and were damaged from the heat radiating from the blaze, which was visible from at least North Hills a few miles away.
Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said that building inspectors were ensuring that the surrounding buildings were stable Friday morning and the city was working to get people back into their businesses and homes following the blaze that forced an evacuation of the surrounding area shortly after the blaze was reported.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control around 1:10 a.m. Friday McGrath said.
Two roommates from Link Apartments, directly east of the fire across N West Street from the fire, were trying to see if they could get into their apartment after being forced to evacuate the night before.
“We were sitting on the couch just watching the Virginia Tech game, just watching basketball, and somebody called him to tell him there was a fire next door, so we went outside and sure enough this whole thing, this construction site was on fire,” Williams said. “So we went out onto the balcony for a bit until it got too hot and we went into my room and watched until the window blew out so we went outside and then the police came and we kept getting pushed further and further back.”
Williams and Devay stayed at a friend’s apartment close by and then left to go buy some clothes to change into while they waited for their apartment to be opened back up.
All they left with were their phones, the clothes on their back, and a case of Budweiser. Their plan had been to watch the fire from the pool area further away from the blaze but once outside, police officers directed them to move further away.
The pair said that in retrospect they probably should have grabbed more items, like a phone charger, but at least no one was seriously injured in the blaze, and things can be replaced.
Devay and Williams both said one of the first text messages that they sent were to their mothers to let them know they were okay.
Those needing shelter from the blaze should contact the Red Cross at (919) 231-1602 and for information on when the surrounding buildings will be opened up for re-entry call the city hotline at (919) 996-2999.