BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Families in multiple apartments had to evacuate their apartment building in Burlington, Monday, after a fire started around 5:41 p.m. at the Trails End apartments. Later, in an unrelated incident, a home in Burlington also caught fire.
Burlington Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Willets said one of the residents at Trails End left a pan of grease on the stove, which caught fire. The flames burned straight up into the attic. Four units are in the apartment building.
Willets said about nine people lived in Building 94 on Denise Drive. Willets condemned the building because he said the damage from the fire has made it unsafe until repairs are made.
The fire started in Sandra Warren's apartment. Warren says her daughter accidentally left a pan unattended on the stove. Warren's husband has emphysema and keeps two oxygen tanks in the kitchen. "I thank God he protected us from the heat and spared out lives and those tanks did not explode...It's definitely a miracle. It's the hand of God. It's Christmastime...Anyone who doesn't believe should believe now."
Later, Warren added, "I lost a lot, but I still have my life. I still have family. I still have my neighbors."
In addition, another neighbor, Scottie Vanhook, said someone broke into his apartment and stole some of his belongings after he evacuated. "Somebody kicked the back door in last night after we left," Vanhook said. "Somebody who needed it worse than we do."
The American Red Cross is helping people in the apartments.
This is the second time in just a few days firefighters have responded to flames at this apartment complex.
On Friday, Willets said a woman who was smoking in bed dropped her cigarette and accidentally started a fire. It caused about $35,000 damage to the building and $10,000 to items inside the building.
On Monday, Burlington firefighters also responded to a fire a 509 Rudd Street. Willets said a small child playing with a lighter started the fire in a bedroom. No one was hurt.
The Smith family lived at the home with their seven children. "I'm just thankful I have my family and nobody was hurt," Kevin Smith said. "It was very scary. I could have died....Just pray for us. Hopefully we can find something else. It's just a tragedy."
Willets estimates the house suffered $50,000 of damage and $15,000 to the contents inside. The American Red Cross is also helping the family involved in this incident.