Charlotte firefighters rescue residents trapped in burning apartment

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Charlotte Firefighters are relieved there was no loss of life during an apartment on Legacy Park Drive in northeast Charlotte.

Officials say six people, including children, were rescued from the second and third story balconies. Days after the fire, the first responders gathered to credit their training, response time and equipment. They believe that helped make a difference.

“We know what we have to do,” Charlotte Firefighter Chad Hunning said. “We are well trained to do it – so we just go to work. We don’t have that ‘what do we need to do’ – it’s an instinct we are trained for.”

The initial call reported light smoke, but when firefighters arrived the situation was worse. It became a two-alarm fire and backup was requested.

“It had thick heavy smoke,” Charlotte Fire Department Captain Denise Petraske said. “Black and brown smoke pushing out of the stairwell. It escalated quickly and the fire spread way faster than it does on a house fire.”

Firefighters used a ladder truck to bring people to safety. Firefighters say parents were holding their children tight and had a hard time releasing them to firefighters. The safety crew rescued all.

Johnson says Charlotte is growing and he wants to make sure all parts of the city has the equipment and manpower it needs to stay safe. This is budget season and the Chief says the department requires more assistance.

“We are looking at the need for additional resources,” Johnson said. “We have several fire stations that are planned in the near future and we are going to continue to evaluate our resources – our response times.”

Firefighters quickly reunited the dog with its owners. They weren’t at home at the time of the fire.

"Have working smoke detectors," Petraske said. "Have an escape plan – that’s one thing people don’t think about, but have that escape plan. If my exit is cut – now what do I do – have a working home phone to call 911."

Firefighters say one person did suffer third degree burns and is in the hospital but is expected to be okay.

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