CHARLOTTE, N.C. – CMPD detectives charged a 20-year-old with first degree murder and arson among other charges after a massive apartment fire injured seven, left over 130 people without homes and caused millions in damages.
According to Charlotte Fire, firefighters responded to a fire at the Woodscape Apartments on Farm Pond Lane around 1 a.m. When crews arrived on the scene, they discovered extensive damage with heavy fire coming from the building.
A team of about 50 firefighters got the blaze under control in about an hour, Charlotte Fire said.
Charlotte Fire said the fire was intentionally set and damages caused by the fire is estimated at about $1.3 millon.
CMPD's Arson Unit located their suspect, Jesus Reyes Lopez, on Thursday.
Lopez was transported to police headquarters and interviewed by arson detectives. According to officials, Lopez has been charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder, first degree arson and damage to property by use of an incendiary device.
According to Charlotte Fire, 40 units were destroyed in the blaze. Medic said that seven people were taken to the hospital with injuries during the fire. Officials with the American Red Cross arrived on the scene to assist those displaced by the fire. Multiple CATS buses arrived to transport those people to emergency shelters in the area.
2nd & 3rd Alarm crews have taken up & headed home (including our personnel). Other crews will remain on scene through the morning. pic.twitter.com/GCLgHlE8tr— Charlotte Fire Comms (@CFD_Alarm) July 17, 2017
Medic said that three people suffered serious injuries during the fire. Four people suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening, according to Medic. All seven patients were taken to CMC-Main for treatment, officials confirmed.
"The whole building is just blazing in the fire, so I told my family, 'come on, let's get out of the house,'" said one neighbor. "The heat was so powerful, it scared us from trying to go down the stairs, but we made it down."
The man went on to say he didn't think he'd have escaped if not for his fiancee, who woke up and saw red. Many residents told NBC Charlotte that no smoke alarms or sprinklers activated during the inferno.
"Trying to get out, the smoke alarm didn't go off, the water sprinklers didn't go off," he said. "We had no notice. We had no alert to tell us to leave."
Rene Mack said there was no time to react as she ran from the fire.
"All we seen (sic) was flames, just flames," Mack said. "And he told me not to panic, because I started panicking, and he's like, 'don't panic.' I just grabbed my pants and house shoes and we tried to run down the steps.
"I was feeling the heat. The flames were coming towards me, we had no choice but to keep going."
One resident captured the harrowing scene on video. In the clip, you can see the building engulfed in flames, as well as several people yelling for neighbors to get outside to safety. Some people suffered injuries after jumping from the third floor to escape the blaze.
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