Man Uprooted by Apartment Fire

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

October 3, 2005

Several families in Albemarle county are without a home tonight after an early-morning fire ripped through their apartment building. It happened around 1:30 a.m. at Abbington Crossing apartment complex. Fire officials say charcoal from an outdoor grill is what started the fire, after being improperly thrown away.

12 units had smoke and water damage, six of those were damaged by the fire. Officials estimate the damage to be $500,000. Luckily, everyone got out safely. Panic and fear were the first things on the minds of those who had to evacuate in the middle of the night. Here is one man's story.

"My daughter comes barging through my bedroom door and says 'Dad we need to get out of here, out of here now'," said Roy Martin.

Confused and still half asleep, Roy Martin and his 15-year-old daughter scrambled to throw on clothes and head out the door.

"There was just smoke everywhere. I was like 'oh my God, the whole building is on fire' and then I saw the flames coming through the roof," said Martin.

In all, 12 units were damaged. Martin's apartment only had water damage so he managed to salvage all of his belongings. But others, just a few doors away weren't so lucky.

"The gentleman that lived above me in 917, I walked through his apartment early this morning and his living room is just destroyed," explained Martin.

Many of those residents are working with the Red Cross to get help. Instead of working, Martin spent most of his day loading up his minivan while spreading the word to friends.

"They found me another apartment; I've got to get my stuff out of here today. What are you doing?" he chuckled on the phone with a friend.

Even as he joked, Martin realized last night's reality is nothing to laugh about.

He somberly said, "Material things can be replaced. Lives can't. I'm just glad that they got out of there."

Martin and his daughter are going to be staying with relatives for a few days, but he's already begun moving his things into another apartment in the same complex.

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