UPDATE: Multiple fires reported in eastern Henrico; daycare evacuated

By Tara Morgan - bio | email
By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Four families need a place to stay tonight after a brush fire forced them from their apartments. The fire started behind some homes on Eastover Avenue -- one of seven wind-fueled fires that burned in Henrico County today.

Power lines are being blamed for this brush fire behind some homes on Eastover Avenue. The wind carried it over to the apartment complex just beyond the fence. Families in one building had to be evacuated. Four are displaced tonight.

Witnesses say the flames were 50 feet tall and moving fast to their backdoors. Laurie Wilson called 911.

"Originally I lost power, that's when I heard a loud bang boom. I walked outside to the back and the woods were burning," Wilson said.

Homeowners grabbed garden hoses to keep the flames from spreading. Witnesses say some even set out sprinklers. No reports of injuries here. Fire crews say the Red Cross is lending a helping hand to those four displaced families.

Meanwhile, a different fire, also in the East End led to the evacuation of more than 60 children from a local daycare. The children were taken to another church just a few miles down the road.

Everyone is safe and sound, but it was a frantic few hours as the children and staff of the Antioch Learning Center were dangerously close to a fire on New Market Road.

The fire which started on one side of Route 5, which is also known as New Market Road, and then jumped the road into a farmer's field.

It was so close to the Antioch Learning Center, which is on New Market Road, that they decided to be cautious and evacuate the kids to the Laurel Hill United Methodist Church a few miles down the road.

But before they left they were given quite the show.

"We heard the explosion. It sounded like more than one explosion actually - two explosions. Looked out and saw the smoke. The smoke was way up there," said Gail Sales with Antioch Learning Center.

"I wasn't sure where the child was at - I was calling everywhere. I checked my messages, I didn't get a message to let me know that anything had taken place so of course I panicked then I had no idea where she was at," said Pamela Thomas whose daughter is a student at the center.

Several people have said that this particular fire on New Market Road was started at a home. That home which is now barely even a frame, but the take-away here at Laurel Hill United Methodist is that everyone is OK. The staff worked quickly and any danger was averted.

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