Fire investigators say seven people were displaced from two apartments in a two-alarm fire Sunday afternoon in South Richmond.
Investigators said those displaced included three children and four adults.
Firefighters were called to the 2500 block of East Tremont Court around 1:16 p.m. Sunday. When crews arrived heavy smoke was visible from the structure.
Charnette Howard could see the smoke from a nearby Martin's, right off Forest Hill. She had no idea that her good friends who she identified as the Cross family were at the center of that fire.
"This thing moved very quickly, very fast very fierce they had just enough time to get out of the house with the clothes that they have on," Howard said.
All members of the family were too emotional to talk to NBC12
"They have been hit by tragedy. We are blessed that no one has been injured or hurt," she said.
Howard said her friends quickly gathered what they could and ran out of the apartment. Several fire crews responded shutting down parts of Forest Hill Avenue.
It took over 40 minutes to get the fire under control. Jessie Tarver lives a couple of doors down from the Cross family. She wasn't home when the fire broke out but got a startling call from her son.
"My son called me at church and told you got to come home no, right now I said son what is the matter he said something happened over there they kicked your door in mom," she said.
Tarver says the door was kicked down by firefighters spot checking her apartment for fire and possible damage. She was one of several people asked to wait outside until crews brought the fire under control and finished their inspections.
The Red Cross is helping families that include several children displaced by this fire.
"Our team is working with each family to determine their immediate needs," said Red Cross Communications Officer, Jonathan McNamara. "Our first priority is to ensure they have a safe place to stay and we are providing each family with food and clothing."
Howard says her friends are now in great need and are reaching out to the community for help.
"We want them to have a place to stay, we want them to have food to eat and their basic needs met," she said.
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The cause of the fire remains under investigation.