HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - An overheated light fixture caused Sunday's fire at the Colonial Village Apartments. Henrico Fire investigators have deemed it accidental in nature.
Around 9:30 Sunday morning a good Samaritan called the fire department to report flames and smoke coming from the roof of an apartment building in the 4200 block of Whitford Court. When firefighters arrived they upped the blaze to a two-alarm fire, meaning they needed double the resources to get it under control.
Smoke billows and flames continue to eat away at the roof of a building in the Colonial Village apartment complex. More than an hour after firefighters arrive they continue to douse hot spots. Residents can no longer stay in four of the units because of fire, water and smoke damage. For Mia Shaw, who lived in one of those apartments, this brush with disaster began with a noisy wake up call from her dog; one she's now thankful for.
"He woke me up," she said. "I never heard my neighbor knocking, but my 170lb Great Dane woke me up barking his butt off."
Natalie Grady smelled smoke, but didn't think it was cause for alarm until that same person knocked on her door.
"I just grabbed my purse and my coat and I got out," she said.
This was a case of neighbor helping neighbor. They were able to get everyone out before the fire department even got here.
"In an apartment setting, your neighbors are your best friends," said Henrico County Fire Marshall Will Shumate. "They're your neighborhood."
Firefighters say the wind caused some challenges, driving the fire.
"I have to say everything really blew up in a matter of ten minutes," said Grady.
They had to cut through the walls and roof with chainsaws to make sure there weren't any hidden flames. While the Red Cross is helping 11 people find a place to stay tonight, Shaw is just thankful no one was hurt in the ordeal.
"Knowing that everybody was ok and able to get out; things can be replaced," she said. "God will provide. We'll be taken care of."
Firefighters also rescued a hamster from the apartment where the fire started. The woman who lives there did not want to talk on camera, but Shaw says she is holding it together.