NC firefighters’ fire attack delayed 13 minutes due to police activity
Police asked firefighters to wait until they arrested the woman accused of discharging a firearm and of setting a fire at the apartment complex
By Danielle Battaglia
News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Firefighters watched helplessly late Wednesday afternoon as black smoke billowed over a treeline from a nearby apartment complex.
Police told them to wait on a nearby street so they could arrest the woman accused of setting the fire who witnesses said was also firing a gun.
For 13 minutes the fire burned and firefighters were unable to reach it.
They called for a second alarm.
"Those 13 minutes hurt us," said Dwayne Church, Greensboro Fire Department spokesman. "But GPD did a great job making it just 13 minutes."
Police arrested 21-year-old Aleen Smith, a Greensboro resident, and charged her with breaking and entering, larceny, possession of a weapon of mass destruction, discharging a firearm within the city limits, and arson.
Officers gave the all-clear for firefighters to go to Legacy Crossing Apartments and do their job.
Firefighters went inside an apartment on the second floor of the complex to do battle but were beaten back by the ferocity of the flames.
They retreated to the ground below and began fighting the fire from outside the building before going back inside the apartment.
At 6:47 p.m., the fire was under control.
"We've got an estimated loss of $100,000," Church said. "Eighty thousand is from structural damage and $20,000 is due to the contents inside — but that's an estimate."
Church said he's not sure how many residents have been displaced. Some media outlets are reporting at least 20 people.
Church said he knows the Red Cross assisted seven adults and two children. Apartment personnel came out and helped others, he said.
Meanwhile, police and fire personnel are still trying to learn what Smith was doing at the apartment and why someone would set the building on fire.
"What we're hearing is she did not live there," Church said. "What we're understanding is no one is claiming to know who she is."
BREAKING: Greensboro Fire Department & Greensboro Police Department are here at an apartment fire in East Greensboro between McConnell Rd and Wendover. GFD says a woman was on the 1st floor with a gun, with heavy flames showing out of 2nd floor windows. GPD took her into custody before GFD fought the fire. Spectrum News North CarolinaPosted by Ashley Claster News on Wednesday, September 18, 2019
©2019 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.)