CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Authorities announced on Friday they have recovered the bodies of two people following a 5-alarm fire in Charlotte’s SouthPark neighborhood.
The announcement was made by the Charlotte Fire Department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.
The bodies are now at the Coroner’s Office, where they will be identified, authorities said.
The apartment complex fire broke out just after 9 a.m. Thursday, May 18, in the 7700 block of Liberty Row Drive. Large black clouds of smoke and flames could be seen from miles away.
Fire officials said the fire started in a spray foam insulation trailer on the bottom floor of the construction site. It’s believed the fire was accidental.
The Charlotte Fire Department is evaluating the SouthPark structure on Friday to see if they can clear units from the scene. That decision will come Friday night.
Charlotte Fire plan to remain at the scene indefinitely.
New photos released on Friday to Queen City News from a Charlotte firefighter showed the intensity of the fire that burned for hours.
VIDEO | Latest on the ongoing 5-alarm fire here.
Crane Operator Rescue
A construction worker was observed trapped on top of a crane at the scene of the large fire in the SouthPark area on Thursday. The man has since been rescued.
He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Charlotte Fire said. The crane operator was one of 15 workers rescued from the construction site.
The Waxhaw Fire Chief told Queen City News the crane operator in SouthPark was rescued by first “putting plenty of water on the crane to ensure the metal didn’t twist or collapse.”
“Then firefighters climbed over 100 feet up the crane to help rescue the operator who had begun climbing down,” the chief said.
Medic reported that one person was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and two others were evaluated and refused transport. Medic said they remain at the scene providing support to firefighters.
VIDEO | Latest on Thursday’s rescue here.
Impacts Of Fire Observed Miles Away
Residents reported charred debris landing in neighborhoods roughly two miles away.
Charlotte Medic confirmed to Queen City News multiple units responded to the scene, as well as units from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, in addition to Charlotte Fire.
Crews continued to extinguish ‘spot’ and ‘rooftop fires’ in the area.
A public safety alert was sent out to nearby residents. “CFD is battling a large fire in SouthPark, do not call 911 unless you have an emergency.”
Second Fire Reported
Crews in Charlotte responded to a second separate fire just streets away from the original fire at the Rocket Mortgage building. An employee told Queen City News they were evacuated about an hour ago after debris from the nearby blaze fell onto their roof.
CMPD was assisting the Charlotte Fire Department with road closures in the area. Residents were asked to avoid the SouthPark area and seek alternate routes. Drivers were asked to avoid:
- Liberty Row Drive
- Fairview Road
- Assembly Street
- Barclay Downs Drive
- Park South Drive
All lanes of Fairview Road have been reopened to traffic between Sharon Road and Park Road as of 6:35 p.m., CMPD reported.
A popular event, SouthPark After 5, was scheduled Thursday for 5 p.m. at Symphony Park. Organizers announced the event has been canceled.
“SouthPark Community Partners is deeply grateful for the bravery of our first responders and is continuing to monitor the effects of this morning’s five-alarm fire on Liberty Row Drive. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and missing, and we stand ready to serve as a resource for our partners and stakeholders in the aftermath of this event.
In light of the current circumstances, tonight’s SouthPark After Five event at Symphony Park has been canceled. We will share any additional information with the community in the coming days.”
Peppervine in Charlotte also announced on Thursday that due to the fires, they will be closed. “We apologize for any inconvenience,” they said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Impacted
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported a number of school bus routes were impacted by the fire. Bus routes impacted were:
Routes were impacted during school dismissal since some roads surrounding the area of the fire were closed during the emergency. Impacted schools included the following:
- Rea Farms STEAM Academy
- Charles H. Parker Academic Center
- Beverly Woods Elementary School
- Carmel Middle School
- Billingsville Elementary School
- Collinswood Language Academy
- Cotswold Elementary Schools
- Marie G. Davis School
- Alexander Graham Middle School
- Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School
- Jay M. Robinson Middle School
- McClintock Middle School
- Montclaire Elementary School
- Myers Park Traditional
- Myers Park High School
- Northwest School of the Arts
- Park Road Montessori
- Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Performance Learning Center
- Pinewood Elementary School
- Randolph Middle School
- Selwyn Elementary School
- Sharon Elementary School
- South Academy of International Languages
- South Mecklenburg High School
- Starmount Academy of Excellence
- Charlotte Engineering Early College – UNCC
- J.T. Williams Secondary Montessori School
A relief tent was set up to help the nearly 100 firefighters at the scene battling the blaze. The cause of the massive fire remains under investigation.