Investigators looking for cause of fire at Honey Tree Apartments

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We still don't know what caused a three alarm fire at a Henrico apartment complex Wednesday afternoon. Crews worked late into the night at the Honey Tree Apartments. There are many questions; especially since this complex has seen several fires this year. That's causing many residents to question their safety.

"The flames were so big, I could feel the heat across the street," said one resident as fire engines raced to the scene at the Honey Tree Apartments yet again. This was at least the third fire there in less than a year.

Barry Mahoney's daughter barely made it out of her apartment Wednesday. He said as she tried to escape, her hair caught on fire. It's a nightmare he keeps reliving.

"Something is definitely wrong. Three fires in a year? Something is not right and it needs to be corrected because next time somebody could die," Mahoney said.

As residents feared for their safety, fire marshals continued their search for answers.

"I don't know that there's any one cause that would go across all of these three fires that you could put your finger on and say, ' there's one thing that happened,'" said Chief David Seay.

There are, however, some things that would help first responders battle the blazes. The complex buildings aren't equipped with sprinkler systems because that wasn't required when the apartments were built. Residents are wondering if the code that is supposed to keep them safe should be retroactive. Fire officials said it's an expensive proposition but it could save lives.

"There are a lot of structures that were built to code of the code that was in use at the time but would not be allowed to be built the same way now," Seay said.

We did get in touch with the company that manages the complex. A representative said their residents are their first priority but right now it is too early to comment on whether any building changes are necessary. They'll wait for the results of the fire marshal's investigation.

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