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Cause of Richmond apartment fire that displaced 36 people, including 21 children, undetermined

A neighbor says flames were coming from the roof of the building.
A neighbor says flames were coming from the roof of the building.(NBC12)
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:27 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 8:15 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The cause of a two-alarm apartment fire that displaced 36 people is undetermined.

Around 4:55 a.m., crews responded to the 5000 block of Snead Road on Nov. 16. After arriving at the scene, crews could see heavy smoke and flames coming from the building.

Apartment fire
Apartment fire(Richmond Fire Department)

According to the Richmond Fire Department, the fire started on the third floor of the building and spread throughout.

Que Layne was in her Foxwood Apartment on the third floor waiting for someone to come home. While she was waiting on her couch, she fell asleep and woke up to an unexpected scene.

“I end up dozing off and I end up hearing somebody yelling,” she said. “I thought I was just dreaming. "

Layne jumped into action to save her friend and 2-year-old niece.

“They sleep deep so I like called them five times and they still didn’t get up,” she said. “I had to literally go in there, shake them, I still didn’t get the door open so I had to get the little one out there first.”

Once the door was open, Layne saw the smoke.

“When I opened the door, a lot of smoke just hit me and I just had to put my coat on and just get out of there,” she said. “Got to the bottom of the steps. All I could see is fire going up.”

A neighbor says flames were coming from the roof of the building.
A neighbor says flames were coming from the roof of the building.(Viewer photo)

A second alarm for the fire went off at 5:06 a.m. The fire was marked under control at 6:39 a.m.

Throughout the morning, firefighters stayed on the scene to investigate the cause as charred debris lined the roof and ground surrounding the apartment building.

36 people, with 21 of them being children, were displaced.

Apartment fire
Apartment fire(Richmond Fire Department)

Jonathan McNamara with the Red Cross said their organization is helping 31 of the 36 people displaced by the fire.

He also said nine of the 11 apartment units impacted by the early morning blaze had people inside.

“Our job at the Red Cross is to provide for the immediate assistance to those who were impacted,” he said.

Throughout the morning, McNamara said their caseworkers talked with residents about their immediate needs and how the Red Cross could support them.

“Understanding their situation, determining what their next move is, and then providing them with resources to be able to get through the next couple of days whether that’s getting some food, some clothing, a place to stay,” McNamara said.

This is a situation Layne is sad to see, but she’s thankful to be alive.

“I really put my time and my effort and my worth into all my stuff in my house and it’s gone,” she said. “I’m still here, so it doesn’t matter.”

A GRTC bus kept the occupants warm during the incident.

Richmond Fire investigators ruled the cause of the fire as undetermined, but have also ruled out human conduct as a factor. Officials said the origin of the fire appears to be in the attic.

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