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Friday, November 25, 2011

Apartment Complex Fire Causes Major Damage

A fire gutted an apartment building in Graham on Thursday night just as nearby residents were winding down their Thanksgiving holiday.

The Graham Fire Department responded about 7 p.m. to 517 W. Market St.for a reported apartment fire near the intersection of Market and Elm streets. The apartment complex is operated by Quality Property Management of North Carolina, which is based in Burlington. The complex contains several two-story multi-unit buildings.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the call. Alamance County Rescue, Alamance County Emergency Services and Graham Police also responded to the scene.

By 8:15 p.m., the fire was under control but smoke continued to billow from the building. Firefighters worked their way inside the smoldering building to extinguish any hot spots that remained through the night.

Alamance County Fire Marshal David Leonard said every unit in the single apartment building sustained major fire damage. The units also sustained water and smoke damage as well.

“Things are very sketchy right now,” Leonard said. “We had a lot of fire with major damage.”

Leonard said the fire’s origin and cause was still undetermined Thursday night. There were no injuries sustained in the fire, Leonard said.

There was one man inside the apartment building living in a downstairs unit when the fire started, according to Leonard. He was questioned extensively by Graham police as the fire raged. Leonard also conducted an interview with the man after the fire was under control.

“They haven’t located anybody inside,” Leonard said. “We don’t think anybody was at home. That’s fortunate.”

Alamance County EMS Director Chuck Mancillas said his team was dispatched to the scene at 7:05 p.m. Mancillas said they first believed there was a victim inside the burning building which later proved to be false.

Several residents of the complex including Delores Enoch and Lakeina Chandler watched outside near West Market Street as firefighters battled the blaze. Their apartment building was not damaged by the fire.

Enoch and Chandler said they could first smell smoke from inside their apartment units and decided to go outside and see what was happening. Their apartment building also operated by Quality Property Management of North Carolina is adjacent to the one that caught fire. Several nearby residents said they were first alerted by the fire from a knock on their door.

“We were still relaxing for Thanksgiving when all this started,” Chandler said.

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