ROANOKE, Va. (WSET) — Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, Roanoke Fire-EMS was dispatched to reports of a structure fire on the 3700 block of Stratford Park Drive.
Upon arrival, crews said they found flames showing from an apartment building, and upgraded the call to a two-alarm response, to which Fire-EMS personnel responded with a full complement within 8 minutes of dispatch.
Due to the size of the building and the life safety issues related to the largely senior and disabled population who reside at the location, crews said the call was upgraded to general alarm, resulting in all available Fire-EMS units being dispatched to the scene.
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Multiple residents were rescued from the building, crews said. Five others were taken to local hospitals.
Three individuals in cardiac arrest were rescued from the building, two were resuscitated and transported to area hospitals, Roanoke Fire EMS said in an afternoon release.
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They also said two people were transported to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries related to smoke inhalation, and numerous others were treated and released on scene.
"Numerous rescues and extractions were performed in addition to the first three," Roanoke Fire-EMS said.
No injuries to Fire-EMS staff have been reported.
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Unfortunately, FireEMS said one fatality has been reported.
Overall, roughly 100 people have been displaced, the fire marshal's office confirmed to ABC13.
Roanoke Fire-EMS said that the American Red Cross is assisting these individuals.
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According to emergency management, 18 to 20 residents who have been displaced were taken to the Berglund Center which is being used as a temporary evacuation center. Others are with friends and family while some residents were sleeping in their vehicles.
Glenda Rahr lived at Stratford Village for almost three years. She said she ignored the fire alarm at first but then left with her dog once the firefighters were pounding on her door.
“Relieved to be alive. I know there is no damage to my apartment because I live on this end and the fire was all the way on the other end, the hall smells like smoke but my apartment doesn’t," Rahr said.
Kyler Himmelbrand has lived in the apartment building for nine years. He said fire alarms go off often so he ignored them at first too.
Himmelbrand said he helped some people out before exiting the building and that there was a lot going through his mind during that time.
"Hoping everybody got out okay but unfortunately not everybody did," Himmelbrand said.
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As of 7 a.m., the fire investigation unit has left the scene after investigating the cause and extent of the damage. Other crews left the scene earlier in the morning.
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The Fire Marshal's Office said they have determined that the fire was accidental and began as a result of improperly discarded smoking materials.
The damages to the building and its contents are still to be determined Roanoke Fire-EMS said in a release Wednesday afternoon.
FireEMS said they would like to thank its mutual aid partners, Salem Fire and EMS Department and Roanoke County Fire and Rescue, who aided in our response to this call by sending their units to the scene, as well as covering some of the other EMS calls within the City of Roanoke during this time.