by Max Brantley
Top news this morning is the enormous fire that broke out not long after midnight at the Forest Place apartments on North University Avenue. Times photographer Brian Chilson, who lives in the complex, took the photo above. He has posted more photos on Facebook.
Firefighters spent three hours controlling the fire. Channel 4 reports that residents left the building safely, though some minor injuries were reported.
Below is the scene this rainy morning. Brian tells me he hasn't been able to get back into his apartment, which may have been spared fire, but not water, damage. His and other cars are also marooned in basement level parking.
Channel 11 reports that firefighters helped some residents out of their apartments by ladder shortly before they were engulfed in flames. Fox 16 has a preliminary damage estimate of $4 million, with 34 destroyed apartments, and says a temporary shelter for 130 residents has been provided at the nearby Calvary Baptist Church. No cause of fire yet.
Several residents report that they did not hear smoke alarms. The only sprinklers in the building are in the garage. Residents also report some recent suspicious fires at the complex, one in a dumpster that receives rubbish from an internal trash chute. Following those fires, new security measures were put in place, included coded entry doors.