CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A two alarm blaze at the Renaissance Lofts Condos in NoDa has left eight people homeless.
Flames broke out at a condominium complex along Donatello Avenue near North Davidson Street just after noon. The fire burned from the patio of a fourth story unit. Officials say it traveled up the outside of the building and to the roof, completely negating the sprinkler system.
"I walked out in the exact opposite direction then just immediately you see a lot of flames shooting out of the balcony,” said neighbor Peter Gendy.
That balcony belonged to Stephanie Laczko.
“I called my roommate while I was at work and it happened to be the time it was burning so I rushed home and this is where I am now,” she said.
It took more than 45 firefighters about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.
Four units were damaged either by the fire or water, but no one was injured. The Red Cross was assisting eight displaced residents.
One of the scarier moments for onlookers was when a firefighter climbing on a ladder slipped. Jason Stevens was watching from below.
"So three or four firemen were climbing on the ladder and it was second to the last one he got hung up on the top of the ladder and fell on the roof, but he caught himself” Stevens said. “It's got to be 50 feet -- it was pretty scary."
Officials say there was no danger of the fireman falling to the ground.
The cause of the fire is simply a cigarette butt burning in a planter. Now Laczko is wondering what she will have left.
“I honestly don’t want to think about it. They said it was mostly outside so hopefully not too much damage inside,” she said. “[It] should be alright, I hope.”
Firefighters say the blaze should serve as a warning about dry and windy conditions and the importance of properly disposing of smoking materials.