CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than a dozen families in south Charlotte were forced to evacuate their homes after a massive fire broke out inside an apartment building Friday morning.
It happened around 1 a.m. on Falls Creek Lane, near East Woodlawn and Scaleybark roads.
Firefighters said no one was hurt in the blaze, but 15 families -- 20 adults, eight children and several pets -- have been displaced.
It took more than 40 firefighters more than an hour to put the fire out. Officials said the flames were so bad that at one point, even the firefighters had to evacuate and contain it from the outside.
Channel 9 spoke to a neighbor who saw the orange glow from all the flames. He said he heard cries for help from inside and called 911.
“The sky was very orange. I noticed it was foggy out, but at the same time, I thought that can’t be a large number of lights or someone’s bonfire, so I’m just kind of observing the sky then I hear somebody yell ‘Help me,’” neighbor Matt White said. “That kept repeating, they kept calling out and at that point, I was like all right something is going down, so I called 911.”
Charlotte Fire said the fire was accidental, started in the attic and smoke alarms were working at the time of the fire. Authorities estimated property loss at $420,000.
“It’s not something that happens to people often. So if it happens to you, it shakes you up a little bit,” said Sheers, one of the fire victims.
A single mother and her young daughter are two others who lost everything after escaping their burning apartment.
“Everything being ripped away from you, it’s hard. It’s really hard,” said mother Rachel Luquire.
Her apartment had some of the worst damage. She said she woke up to her 2-year-old daughter crying and coughing.
“Everything was up in flames, embers falling on the stairs,” Luquire said.
She ran outside, but was alone in the parking lot, so she screamed and called 911. At least four people have said they escaped because of her.
Dyshericka Bell did not hear the screams but made it out with their 6-year-old. Her family worked hard to build a life there.
“We’ve literally been here since Jan. 28, before then we were homeless. So this really affected us. Like, really affected us,” Bell said.
Despite losing so much, many are still grateful.
“I did lose just about everything. I did have people give my daughter a lot of belongings, so she is fed. I have a roof over my head,” Luquire said.
“Our lives can’t be replaced. That’s all I care about is our lives. Anything else, it’s all right,” Bell said.
The Red Cross said five volunteers responded to help the 15 families who were impacted. The organization offered temporary assistance and said families can use the emergency funds for housing, food and clothing. Volunteers will also be helping families with a recovery plan.
Some of the families are also getting help from friends at work and family members.
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