The Latest: Fire caused government building closings Friday

AP News
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Posted: Mar 17, 2017 6:19 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on apartment building fire in Raleigh, North Carolina (all times local):

5:55 p.m.

The massive fire in Raleigh caused North Carolina state government to close some buildings early for the week.

The state says three buildings near the apartment building under construction that caught fire Thursday night lost electricity and weren't open Friday. One housed offices for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

It's unclear what started the fire. No one was injured.

The state Department of Administration says at least three other government buildings had no electricity. One of them had their exterior windows crack, but the windows have been secured. The state banking commissioner office also was closed Friday because it was so close to other damaged buildings.

Building inspections have occurred. Administration Department spokeswoman Alexandra Mendoza says power has been restored to the government buildings and should resume normal operations Monday.

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5:15 p.m.

Federal authorities say they will be involved in a joint investigation of a fire that destroyed a downtown apartment complex under construction in Raleigh.

A statement from the division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says its National Response Team will arrive Saturday. The team consists of investigators, forensic mapping specialists, canine teams, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.

The cause of the fire has not been released.

The personnel will assist the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Raleigh Fire Department and the Raleigh Police Department in the investigation.

Several nearby buildings were damaged by the fire's intense heat.

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1:45 p.m.

The fire chief in North Carolina's capital city says an apartment building under construction near an entertainment district had been inspected 50 times before it went up in flames.

Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath said Friday the building was most recently inspected three days before it erupted in flames late Thursday. He said one firefighter suffered minor injuries and five people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Several other nearby buildings were damaged by the fire's intense heat, and McGrath said they were being inspected to make sure they're safe.

The fire was under control after about three hours, although smoke was still rising as firefighters continued pouring water on wreckage that had collapsed to the ground.

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10:35 a.m.

Two people who live across from a burned apartment building in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, say they've probably lost most of their possessions.

A fire Thursday night in a six-story building under construction caused damage to a number of nearby buildings before it was extinguished early Friday.

Accountant Brent Williams and retirement planner Robert Devay said between water damage from sprinklers and the heat of the burning building about 50 yards across the street, they've probably lost most of what they owned in the two-bedroom apartment they shared. The 26-year-old men were watching the NCAA basketball tournament when they saw the flames.

Williams said they moved to his bedroom because of the heat and then a window popped in from the fire. He said they headed out as police ordered everyone out.

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9:45 a.m.

Smoke was still rising eight hours after firefighters extinguished most of the flames that destroyed an apartment building under construction in North Carolina.

Firefighters on a ladder truck were about 30 feet in the air late Friday morning, continuing to pour water on the smoking, crumpled metal in downtown Raleigh.

The fire damaged about 10 nearby buildings, including The Quorum Center, a 15-story office and residential tower. Windows facing the apartment building were shattered all the way to the top floor.

A six-story residence building nearby had its pale green paint melted or burned a dark brown. Some windows in that building were open to the cold.

One injury has been reported. Raleigh police said at least four streets were still closed late Friday morning.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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This item has been corrected to show The Quorum Center is 15 stories, not 17 stories.

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7:40 a.m.

A fire that destroyed an apartment building under construction in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, also damaged about 10 other nearby buildings, five of them severely.

Area news outlets reported one firefighter was hurt by shattered glass, but no other injuries have been reported in the blaze that started about 10 p.m. Thursday. The fire was under control about three hours later, but firefighters continued to work Friday morning on hot spots.

Several hundred people in the downtown area lost power during the blaze, which toppled a construction crane at the building.

About 130 firefighters worked to extinguish the flames. A number of streets in the area were still closed Friday morning. Investigators have not yet been able to get into the wreckage to try to determine the cause of the blaze.

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1:50 a.m.

Firefighters are battling a five-alarm fire that is burning in a downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, apartment building and surrounding structures.

Media outlets report the fire was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday. Fire was consuming an apartment building under construction.

Raleigh fire officials say the fire spread to nearby buildings. No injuries are yet reported and there are no indications that anyone is trapped inside any of the affected buildings.

Eyewitness Pedro Tapia tells the News and Observer of Raleigh (http://bit.ly/2m83hBj) that the flames caused a construction crane to fall.

The Red Cross is mobilizing volunteers to assist those who have been displaced by the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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This story has been corrected to show The Quorum Center is 15 stories, not 17 stories.