Durham County

17 people displaced as fire damages eight apartments on Leon Street

Light puffs of smoke are visible after Durham firefighters put out an apartment fire at 1200 Leon Street Sunday afternoon.
Light puffs of smoke are visible after Durham firefighters put out an apartment fire at 1200 Leon Street Sunday afternoon. cwarrenhicks@heraldsun.com

Eight apartments were damaged and 14 adults and three children displaced from their homes Sunday afternoon by a fire at 1200 Leon St.

Durham Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said the fire started on a deck of one of the apartments and the investigation is focused on whether or not someone was using the grill.

There were no injuries.

Firefighters were dispatched at 2:05 p.m., and after reaching the burning two-story, apartment building reported “heavy fire” on the building’s second floor, Iannuzzi said. The flames had already reached several apartments.

The fire was extinguished within 20 to 25 minutes but caused damage to the eight apartments and the building’s roof.

“... It appears that fuel burned from a propane tank on the deck, but the tank did not explode,” Iannuzzi said. “A report that the fire was caused by a grill being used on the deck is under investigation.”

Iannuzzi said the apartment building and deck had no fire sprinklers, a fact which allowed the fire to spread quickly.

He added that the fire code did not prohibit storage of the grill on the deck, but said according to code, use of the grill was not allowed on the deck.

Iannuzzi said grills should only be used at least 10 feet from a building. He added that rental agreements may be more prohibitive than the fire code, so before storing and using any type of grill at an apartment building, tenants should review their lease or check with management for property-specific rules.

Thirty-one firefighters battled the blaze. Iannuzzi said the American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

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