Lightning likely to blame for condo fire that displaced 28

by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A condominium complex caught fire overnight in southeast Charlotte, and firefighters said it is likely that lightning is to blame.

The two-alarm fire broke out at the Sharon Oaks condominium complex on Arching Oak Lane, near Sharon Amity Road and Independence Blvd. around 3 a.m. At the time, the area was being hit by a heavy lightning storm.

“I was able to hear here. ‘It's fire! Fire! Fire! Everybody leave! Everybody wake up! Wake up!’” said resident Phyllis.
 
Phyllis didn't want to give us her last name, but she said she was asleep early Wednesday morning when a neighbor started banging on her door.

The first firefighters on the scene reported that there were heavy flames coming from the attic. It took firefighters nearly an hour to get the fire under control.

It was even tougher for firefighters to fight the fire because they had to wade through two feet of water due to clogged storm drains.

Residents told Channel 9 that no fire alarms went off and firefighters said that the sprinkler system did not activate because the fire was above it, in the attic.

When Channel 9 asked the property manager about the fire alarm, he said the fire marshal inspected them in December and also had a private contractor inspect them four months ago.

“Each one has an individual fire system that was recently inspected by the fire marshal,” said property manager John Ashworth.
 
Catherine Ellis says she woke up to her apartment on fire.
 
"I just wanted to tell everybody to get out, because there were no alarms, no sprinkler. I needed to let people know,” she said.

Fire officials told Channel nine that 28 people were displaced from the fire -- including 13 children -- and that the Red Cross responded to help them.

The fire is still under investigation.

Shortly after firefighters arrived at the condos, another fire broke out at a home on Arroyoa Drive in east Charlotte.

The Red Cross said four adults and a child were displaced from that fire but that nobody was hurt.

Firefighters have not said if they think lightning caused that fire also.