Crews Work To Get Displaced Seniors Back In Apartments

Roanoke, VA - A retirement home fire that injured six people has been ruled accidental.

The Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke caught fire Thursday after an apartment went up in flames.

It was a very close call for people inside that community but the staff was able to evacuate some 40 people from the five story building.

When firefighters arrived at Friendship Retirement Community they found the staff working to evacuate nearly three dozen residents.

Six senior citizens needed treatment, including two who were taken to the hospital.

One was rescued from the doorway of an apartment found fully engulfed.

"They went in and rescued that victim while other crews were carrying her down the first arriving crew extinguished the fire," said Roanoke Fire Chief, Dave Hoback.

The fire was contained to that second floor apartment but water and smoke damaged others.

Tony Terry doesn't need a call from his boss to know a fire like this means a long night ahead.

"We do an all call. As many crews as we can get in. Especially the first night to get them stabilized and get something going the first night," said Terry who runs a crew for cleanup provider, ServPro.

He knows the residents of this building are either staying with family or in local hotels waiting on his crews to get the mess cleaned up so they can come home.

"We were out here until about 2 o'clock last night setting up specialty equipment for deodorization so we can get the people moved back in as quick as possible," said Terry.

Fire experts say this type of fire is about as bad as it gets and this time they got lucky.

"Especially when you are dealing with semi ambulatory people - that can get around.. but they are awfully slow getting around and when you have a fire you need to get out quick. So that was a very high risk event for us and we were very fortunate," said Hoback.

Hoback says some of the apartment doors needed to be breached to get some people out who were having mobility and/or hearing issues.

Of the six injuries, a woman in her 60's suffered critical internal and external burns.

She is at UVa fighting for her life.