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3 morning fires in Charlotte displace 33 residents

By Steve Lyttle
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
0219 cltfire ab
- Davie Hinshaw, dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
Charlotte firefighters say 28 people were displaced after a fire early Wednesday at the Sharon Oaks apartments off Arching Oak Lane.

Fire officials reported no injuries, but nearly three dozen people were displaced in three blazes across Charlotte on Wednesday morning.

Two of the blazes, including a two-alarm fire at a condominium complex off Sharon Amity Road, might have been started by lightning, officials say. The other fires were in east Charlotte's Hickory Grove community and on East Boulevard near Freedom Park.

The first blaze was reported about 3:30 a.m. at the Sharon Chase Condominiums, in the 4700 block of Arching Oak Drive, off Sharon Amity Road, south of Independence Boulevard.

Firefighters said the blaze apparently started in a second-floor unit. Charlotte fire Capt. Mark Basnight said the blaze displaced 28 people -- 15 adults and 13 children.

One man who lives in another building said the storm had reached its peak shortly before the fire broke out.

"I remember one really vivid flash of lightning and a real loud crash of thunder just a second or two later," the man said. "I thought it must have hit pretty close to me."

American Red Cross officials said they were told that two apartment units were destroyed and eight others damaged. A Charlotte Area Transit System bus was used for temporary shelter for displaced residents.

Another fire was reported about 4 a.m. -- also during the storm -- at a residence in the 6800 block of Arroyo Drive. That is east of W.T. Harris Boulevard in Charlotte's Hickory Grove area.

The Red Cross said it provided help for the displaced residents -- four adults and a child. Basnight said it took a crew of 27 firefighters about 15 minutes to put out the blaze.

The third fire was reported about 7 a.m. on East Boulevard near Lombardy Circle. Basnight said it took a crew of 27 firefighters about 15 minutes to subdue the blaze. Investigators are working to determine the cause.

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