25 January 2023
WINSTON- SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — People living in an apartment complex in Winston-Salem woke up to flames, smoke and loud knocks at their door telling them to leave their homes in the middle of the night.
More than a dozen people now are without homes as fire investigators work to learn how the fire started at the Andrews Heights Apartments on Ferrell Heights Court.
Many people living there have disabilities. Many use wheelchairs or walkers or need oxygen. When the flames started on the second floor, they had to find a quick escape route.
“I was in my bed looking at the television when I heard some knocking boom boom boom. Just knocking. I laid there for about 15 minutes. I started smelling smoke. Smoke was coming through vents,” Stephanie Boston said. “Something told me to get up out of my bed. I got up out of my bed, and right out this window…flames were just coming,”
Before Boston knew it, flames started shooting from the unit right above her apartment.
She ran out of the apartments and started knocking on her neighbor’s doors to warn them about the fire.
“Running down the halls…this is a real fire. Everybody came out,” she said. “Flames were just rolling.”
She worried for her neighbors with disabilities like Jerry Howard who uses a wheelchair to get around.
“I was laying in my apartment sleeping, and I heard a lady in the hall hollering ‘fire’…she said ‘Jerry, that man next door’s house is on fire’…and I could see it coming towards my back door,” Howard said.
He went next door to tell the man about his burning apartment.
“He didn’t answer, so I used both of my hands and knocked really hard…when he come to the door, I said…’your house is on fire,’ and he said…’I know it,’ and he closed the door,” Howard said.
Boston, still shaken, spoke with the police about what happened and who was inside the apartment where the fire started.
On Tuesday, neighbors came by to see what they could recover from the fire.
“This terrified me. You never think you’re going to get burned up in a house fire. That’s how it felt,” she said. “What in the world am I going to do?”
She has started a GoFundMe to help with the unexpectant loss.
Fire investigators have not released a cause.
We are working to learn if the fire was set intentionally. Fire officials say there were no reports of injuries, and the Red Cross is assisting more than a dozen people to find temporary housing over the next few days.