Wicked winds spread large fire at apartment complex

Published: Feb. 25, 2012 at 3:02 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2012 at 11:53 PM EST
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Source: NBC12 Viewer
Source: NBC12 Viewer
Source: NBC12 Viewer
Source: NBC12 Viewer
Source: Chris Schurz
Source: Chris Schurz

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Saturday's high winds made for a busy day for local firefighters. The winds fanned a massive fire at an apartment complex in Richmond near Stony Point. Two people were injured, but are expected to be okay.

Firefighters say a cigarette butt caused the fire and that strong winds spread the flames to the entire building.

The top two stories of this apartment building at Stony Lake are now just a charred skeleton.  The flames were shooting up into the air as firefighters try to get it under control.

Chris Schurz woke up around 6:30 this morning to a firefighter busting down his door, yelling at him to "get out."

"I walk outside," Schurz said.  "The whole building is in flames."

He says he was outside barefoot for two hours, wondering if his pets were safe inside his ground floor apartment.

"I'm thinking, are these animals alive right now?" he said.  "What's going on with them? What's going on with the electronics? You just don't know. Your mind is just rushing with a lot of questions that you don't have answers to."

Sharon Hoyle's son lives in one of the burned out units. He was able to make it out safely. Firefighters even snagged his college diploma off the wall before they started spraying water inside."

"It's pretty bad," Hoyle said.  "Looks like everything's gone so we're going to tell him we got this."

Firefighters here on scene say they're grateful the neighboring building didn't also go up in flames. They say the strong winds we've been seeing this weekend were blowing the flames dangerously close.

"Anything that's small, once it's wind-driven, it is almost like it's accelerating or pushing it," said Lt. Robbie Hagaman, Richmond Fire Department.

Two people jumped out the window of their upstairs apartment, but only suffered minor injuries.

The Red Cross is stepping in to help the people who were displaced.

The apartment fire wasn't the only scene that firefighters had to respond Saturday.

A few hours later, these wicked winds spread a small fire from a transformer on the west side of Richmond, briefly shutting down Cary Street Road.

Chesterfield crews also responded to a small shed fire Friday night that was fueled by the high winds.

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