CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Firefighters rescued a crane operator and 14 other workers trapped in an apartment building under construction when a massive fire broke out inside the building Thursday morning in SouthPark.
According to Charlotte Fire’s most recent update, two workers are unaccounted for.
Alejandro Quiroga, a construction worker who escaped the fire, said the flames were coming from the bottom of the building before parts of the building collapsed, so he especially feared for those working on the top floors.
“They started getting out; they started screaming, ‘Get out! Get out!’ Because the building’s on fire!'” said Quiroga.
He was working inside on the first floor when the fire erupted, and he had to escape.
“I saw the building in flames and coming down, so it’s scary,” said Quiroga.
All nine of the men on his crew got out.
“That’s a relief, but I’m worried for the rest of the workers over there,” said Quiroga.
He watched what he escaped and started worrying for the others.
“Now I lost two guys there; I tried to call them on the phones, but they don’t answer,” said another construction worker who made it out of the fire. “I don’t know if they are there or where they are going.”
Firefighters battled extreme heat.
“High heat conditions well over 2,000 degrees, a construction site, a lot of wood is exposed,” said Reginald Johnson, the Chief of the Charlotte Fire Department. “The fire moved very rapidly.”
Firefighters were forced to rescue their own.
“We had several Maydays,” said Johnson. “A Mayday is when crews get trapped and have issues of escaping due to the fast-moving fire, and a Mayday is required when we have to send other firefighters to rescue those companies, and we had two of those as they were attempting to rescue those construction workers from the building at the time.”
More than 90 firefighters battled the five-alarm fire.
One of the construction workers says about 100 people were working on the apartment building project, which started in January.