Lightning blamed for deadly Chesapeake apartment fire

Posted at 2:52 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 16:16:08-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - We now know what caused a deadly apartment fire at a senior living apartment complex in Chesapeake over the weekend.

Fire officials say lightning struck the building, setting it ablaze and leaving three people dead.

One of the victim's has been identified as 61-year-old Cynthia Martenis of Chesapeake.

One hundred and fifty residents were displaced.

According to Fire Capt. Scott Saunders, the building didn’t have a fire alarm that notified dispatchers.

At the time the building was built, the code didn’t require it to have an alarm.

Instead, each apartment has a sprinkler system and smoke detector.

On Tuesday many had to leave their temporary homes with nowhere to go.

“It’s very disheartening. Very overwhelming,” Carolynn Stanton-Bell said.

Stanton-Bell was out marching across the street from her burned out apartment complex today.

“It’s about those that don’t have the voice to speak. That don’t know how to speak,” Stanton-Bell explained.

Management provided temporary housing for about 30 residents--- but most must be out today.

Stanton-Bell says many of her neighbors have nowhere to go.

“They need to be heard. These are elderly people. I know one man that’s been sleeping in the woods for three days,” she explained.

The apartment’s management team tells news three Chesapeake Social Services and the American Red Cross are now assisting people in need of immediate housing.

According to management, they are working to move tenants into available units or units at other properties while crews make repairs.

Tenants tell News 3 it’s a slow moving process.

“They won’t tell you nothing," said Hattie Beatha, who has been staying with a friend. "They say you can’t go in there. I’m just nervous. I’m upset about this. Not only because of me but because of the people out here that don’t know what to do.”

Luckily, some residents have gotten assistance from a local church, but many say it’s only temporary.

Boyd Homes says any residents who have questions or are looking for help can call (757) 275-7696.


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