Orange County

Red Cross, firefighters helping residents displaced by Carrboro apartment fire

Multiple departments fighting fire at The Villages apartments in Carrboro

Carrboro Fire Department responds Jan. 8, 2018, to a fire in L Building at The Villages apartments on Smith Level Road.
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Carrboro Fire Department responds Jan. 8, 2018, to a fire in L Building at The Villages apartments on Smith Level Road.

The cause of a fire that damaged 16 apartments on Smith Level Road was still under investigation Tuesday as residents began the process of starting over.

Many had renter’s insurance that will help provide lodging and replace their belongings lost in Monday’s fire at The Villages of Chapel Hill, said Vicki LaBelle, executive director of the Central NC Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Building L, a two-story structure, sustained heavy fire damage to the top eight apartments, Carrboro Fire Chief Susanna Williams said, while the bottom eight apartments suffered smoke and water damage. No residents or firefighters were injured.

“Nobody is going to be able to go back into their apartments,” Williams said Monday night.

LaBelle said the Red Cross provided food, clothing and other help to residents of four apartments, but only one needed temporary lodging. Other residents weren’t home, but the Red Cross left business cards in case they need to follow up, she said.

The Villages complex has 10 vacant apartments, LaBelle noted, and management is working with residents to get some of them resettled. It’s unclear at this time which of the damaged apartments might be habitable, she said.

Carrboro police said Tuesday that the residents’ pets, including a dog that firefighters rescued and two cats that were missing, have been found.

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Residents watch Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, as a thick fire burns through eight second-story apartments of Building L at The Villages of Chapel Hill on Smith Level Road in Carrboro. Eight apartments on the building’s ground floor were damaged by smoke and water, fire officials said. Capt. Walter M. Mills Carrboro Fire Department

Carrboro Fire Department, along with Chapel Hill, White Cross and North Chatham fire departments, evacuated nearby buildings Monday as firefighters attempted to put out the fire. Chapel Hill public safety spokesman Ran Northam said “big black smoke” was billowing from Building L around 5 p.m. and “a huge flame” was visible on the top floor.

Sections of the building’s attic were continuing to smolder around 6 p.m., but fire officials reported having the fire under control by 6:15 p.m.

Chapel Hill Transit sent buses so residents could have a place to stay warm during the fire, Williams said, and fire crews continued to work into the night to gather the residents’ belongings, she said.

South Orange Rescue Squad, Carrboro Police Department, Orange County Emergency Services and Orange County Animal Control also helped with the response, Williams said.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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