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The Horrible Fire of the Century: Could it Happen in Charlotte?

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It was the worst fire in almost a century. The blaze that took place in March 2017 in downtown Raleigh damaged or destroyed ten buildings, including the one that sparked the fire.

And with all the condos going up around uptown and in South End, there is a wondering, could it happen here?

The short answer: Yes, it could easily happen here. However, we can do things to prevent it.

Buildings made of wood are going up all over Charlotte from uptown to NoDa and South End. Local fire inspectors admit they are concerned.

It was shocking to see, fire lighting up the night sky in downtown Raleigh in March 2017.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” one witness said.

It was supposed to be a 6-story apartment building but the wood framed construction burned quickly, keeping some residents out for more than a year.

Charlotte Fire Officials Have Concerns

The Charlotte fire inspector concerns about this. He told, “It’s a combustible material – as everyone knows wood burns you put it in the fireplace, it burns well that’s why we use it in fireplaces, so yeah it spreads very easily and quickly.”

Across the Charlotte area, there is an awful lot of construction using an awful lot of wood.

The Raleigh fire spread fast and far, damaging 9 other buildings and forcing some residents out for more than a year.

“Do you worry about that happening in Charlotte?” asked The Defenders’ Michelle Boudin.

“Of course, it can happen anywhere,” the inspector said. “All we can do is reduce the risk of it happening.”

After the Raleigh fire, the Charlotte Fire Department sent a letter to all construction companies to make sure they know fire code requirements.

There is not much thing that Fire Departement can do, said the inspector. Therefore, we have to keep an eye out for the future.

“Is there anyone keeping an eye on these sites as they’re going up to make sure there’s not combustible material could be potentially dangerous?” NBC Charlotte asked.

‘We keep an eye on them. Ultimately, it’s up to building superintendent to make sure everything is good,” the inspector said.

“So there is really no one whose job it is to go behind?” we asked.

“We don’t have time,” the inspector said. “As you know, there’s a lot of building going on and we don’t have time to pay them a visit every week.”

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