VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Soot now covers the walls of an apartment building on 16th Street in Virginia Beach after a fire tore through a first-floor unit over the weekend.
The March 23 fire sent an elderly woman to the hospital with severe burns.
10 On Your Side learned earlier this week, the fire started while the woman was smoking a cigarette while using oxygen. The woman is now in fair condition.
Neighbor Stephen Gray said, “It didn’t take long for everything to burn with the oxygen and everything in there. She’s lucky to be alive.”
Gray’s apartment is right across from where the fire started — and where Gray’s finance and 9-week-old baby were asleep in their apartment. With the help of a neighbor and firefighters, they were able to get out safely.
However, they no longer have a home to go back to. A sign has been placed on the door saying their apartment is no longer safe.
“The black soot once it sets in it’s too risky to have around the baby anyway,” said Gray.
Gray said the Red Cross put them in a weekly rental, but they are trying to figure out where to go next.
“We’re paycheck-to-paycheck people, just like anybody. And trying to raise a baby is hard enough,” Gray said. “I have a little left over each check after the bills are paid and to see everything you’ve worked for you can’t take anything with you.”
Gray said a GoFundMe page has been started for his family.