Henrico apartment fire ruled accidental: Displaced residents try to cope

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – An apartment fire last night in Henrico County has been ruled an accident. The fire at the Newbridge Apartments in Highland Springs left 8 people homeless. Today we're getting a better picture of what happened, and what's next for those displaced.

As a construction crew worked to patch a hole in the roof of her building, Sherry Jenkins stood and wondered what to do next.

"So much going on right now... I don't know what to do," she said, her voice shaking.

Sherry and the other victims still couldn't get into their apartments Monday afternoon to assess their personal losses. But they had their lives, thanks in part to their neighbors' actions.

Joseph Thompson heard from another neighbor that an apartment was on fire. He says he hurried over from his apartment in the next building, and knocked on the door of an elderly woman on the second floor.

"I grabbed her because she acted like she didn't want to come out," he said. "I took her and grabbed her by the arm and picked her up and placed her down the steps, and I proceeded to knock on everybody else's door."

Before long, the building was engulfed in flames. Part of the roof collapsed- everyone was lucky to get out unharmed.

"Just being a neighbor, that's all," said Thompson, "and a friend at the same time- because I would like someone to do it for me."

Monica Tinsley lives in the next building. She says Sunday's fire has changed her outlook.

"You never know what may happen," she said, looking at the charred remains of the building, two doors down from her own. "It really made me think about my choices from here on out.  I'm going to get renters insurance," she added.

Sherry Jenkins has a different set of priorities- and a new set of fears.

"Where I'm going to be at. Where are they going to put us at," she wondered.

For now, Sherry is staying with a neighbor, but her future is uncertain.

Henrico fire investigators say the blaze started in a kitchen on the first floor of the two-story building. The Red Cross has helped the victims find temporary shelter, food and clothing.

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