CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Several neighbors in a South Charlotte apartment complex can no longer return to their own homes after an unattended candle sparked a fire.
It happened Sunday afternoon at SouthPark Commons Apartments on Hedley Way.
The fire investigation task force learned a candle left unattended caught fire with combustible material causing one million dollars worth of damage.
Crews spent Monday cleaning up debris and installing a fence around the affected building. The fire tore through a building at the complex destroying five units and displacing multiple families.
Rahul Shandilya lives in the building next door to the fire. He says his friend struggled to make it out with his daughter.
“The stairs were burning so it was hard for my friend to get outside,” Shandilya said. “When he came out the stairs broke down.”
Fire officials say it took 50 firefighters an hour to control the flames.
“It spread fast but luckily firefighters took control,” Shandilya said. “Otherwise it would’ve been very bad.”
While working to put out the fire, fire officials say two firefighters were injured. Both were treated on the scene and returned to work on Monday.
Resident Saudia Farnam drove up to the complex and saw clouds of smoke covering the building.
“We were new residents. So it’s just always a reminder, like, anything could happen,” Farnam said. “No matter where you go, no matter where you are. So, I’m just glad that everyone was okay.”
All residents made it out safely but the building and units are a total loss. Neighbors say they are praying for those affected.
“I would just try to give them some encouraging words. Let them know that, you know, this is not the end. It is a devastating time,” Farnam said. “I pray for support, you know, from the community from family, anybody that can rally together to really be by their side during this trying time.”
The fire department wants to remind people not to leave candles unattended. The Red Cross is assisting seven people who have been displaced. Investigators say there’s at least one million dollars worth of damage.