• Family escapes as flames rip through Charlotte home

    By: Stephanie Coueignoux


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Investigators believe they have determined what caused an overnight fire that destroyed a home in east Mecklenburg County early Friday morning.

    The fire started around 3 a.m. on Talus Trace Lane. A family of four was asleep at the time, but managed to get out safely.

    Anas Elsabbagh lives next door and he told Channel 9 he was woken up by the intense flames.

    "I looked out the window. I saw a big ball of fire -- just flames. I asked my kids to leave the house immediately."

    It took firefighters about an hour before they were able to get the fire under control.

    The roof and second story are gone and fire officials said the house is a complete loss.

    Fire investigators have ruled the fire to be accidental, blaming a malfunctioning HVAC system.

    Fire Marshal Rob Kinniburgh said,"The fire started low, in the garage or on the outside of the garage."

    Channel 9 also learned firefighters had issues finding a working fire hydrant. Firefighters first tried to connect their hose to the closest hydrant but they didn’t notice the ‘out of service’ marker.

    When the crew realized the hydrant didn't work, they had to go another 1,100 feet until they could connect to one that did.

    Kinniburgh said that didn’t greatly impact their response.

    “That caused us to have to focus our attention on the exposure next door for a short time until we got a secondary water supply,” he said.

    Investigators are now investigating why that hydrant was out of service,

    "Our records indicate it was working properly the last time we tested it," said Kinniburgh.

    Channel 9 asked when the hydrant was last tested but the fire marshal didn't know the exact date.

    The family told Channel 9 they're now trying to go through what's left of their belongings.

    The Red Cross is assisting them with a place to stay.

    Officials estimate the total cost of the damage to be around $300K.

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