VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Crews responded to a 2-alarm apartment fire in Virginia Beach Thursday afternoon that damaged at least 16 units.
According to the Virginia Beach Fire Department, the call for the fire came in around 4:17 p.m. at the Indian Lakes apartment complex on Hiawatha Drive.
Chopper 10 flew over the scene of the apartment fire which showed a huge portion of the building appearing to be irreparably damaged. Crews surrounded the building as smoke could be seen several blocks away.
The fire was put out around 6:15 p.m.
10 On Your Side’s Michelle Wolf has learned that at least 16 units were affected by the fire, eight above and eight below. Four of the 16 units are deemed a total loss.
Fire officials say two firefighters sustained non life-threatening injuries and were sent to a local hospital. Two officers were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
In total, there were 20 residents displaced. One dog inside a crate was rescued and reunited with his owner. The apartment manager along with American Red Cross are currently working with the displaced residents regarding lodging.
Investigators have ruled the fire accidental and determined it was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials.
10 On Your Side spoke with a gentleman off-camera who lives across the street from the complex that burned. He tells us as soon as he saw flames and smoke he started pounding on doors making sure everyone was able to get out safely.
At least seven fire trucks and dozens of emergency vehicles were on scene working to control the blaze.
“I just came by today after I heard it was on fire. I started sobbing because I understand what these people are going through and I just knew that I needed to get over there and try to help people,” said Allison Hodgkins, a former tenant whose own apartment home burned down nearly two years ago.
Hodgkins used to live at Indians Lakes until a fire destroyed all her belongings and took the life of one of her pets.
“My apartment was completely demolished; like nothing can be salvaged,” Hodgkins explained.
She came by the property Thursday to help those who lost everything because she knows how it feels.
“It was just so surreal. It felt like I was living in that moment again. It was hard but I just really feel for those people,” Hodgkins stated.
Hodgkins is considering a lawsuit against Indian Lakes Apartments.
“Indian Lakes is not a safe place for people to live. Three fires in two years is not normal at all and so people need to leave and Indian Lakes needs to be held accountable and they need to let people out of their leases if they feel uncomfortable living there,” Hodgkins said.
Fortunately, all tenants and pets made it out safely.
10 On Your Side even found a stowaway pet that managed to escape the fire underneath a WAVY vehicle–a little white bunny rabbit. The rabbit is now in the care of Virginia Beach Animal Control until it can be reunited with its owners.
Indian Lakes management has no comment on the incident.
The area was the scene of another 2-alarm fire that damaged 16 apartments nearly two years ago. That fire resulted in 22 adults and nine children being displaced. There were no injuries reported.
In April 2021, the apartment complex was also the scene of a shooting that left one man dead and sent two others to the hospital.
At the time, 10 On Your Side spoke to a resident who was affected by a separate fire that occurred at that same apartment complex in December 2020. That fire left 8 apartments damaged.
Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.