A construction worker died and another went missing after a massive 5-alarm fire erupted at a North Carolina work site Thursday morning.
The 5-alarm blaze broke out at about 9 a.m. inside an under-construction apartment building in Charlotte’s affluent SouthPark neighborhood, authorities said.
The crews rescued 15 workers — including a man stuck on a crane — from the fast-moving fire, but two workers were unaccounted for as teams continued to try to get the inferno under control, the Charlotte Fire Department tweeted at 7:34 p.m.
One of the construction workers unaccounted for, identified by family as Demonte Sherrill, 30, was later confirmed to have died, WSOC-TV reported.
The other man still hadn’t been found by late Thursday night.
Most of the flames were put out by about noon, the report said.
Exposed wood and construction debris acted like kindling for the fire which rose to five alarms in under an hour, Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said at a press conference recorded by local station ABC8 News.
Two fire crews needed to be rescued themselves when they became trapped in the burning building in the 7700 block of Liberty Row Drive, Johnson said.
“We rescued 15 people from this fire and the men and women of this department put themselves in harm’s way and actually had to call for assistance themselves to get out of this fire — that’s how fast it was moving,” he told reporters. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done here.”
One worker was stuck atop a crane when the fire with “high heat conditions well over 2,000 degrees” ignited.
Firefighters had to first cool down the crane with water to ensure the metal didn’t twist or collapse before rescuing the man, according to the fire chief.
“Then firefighters climbed over 100 feet up the crane to help rescue the operator who had begun climbing down,” the Waxhaw Fire Chief, who assisted the Charlotte team, told Queen City News.
The crane operator was rushed to the hospital in serious but stable condition.
The fire also began to spread to the building across the street as well as several rooftops, but the smoke eaters were able to put out those “spot fires” before they took off, Johnson said.
The workers were building a luxury apartment building complex that was set to open in spring 2024.
Large black plumes of smoke from the scene could be seen from miles away, according to the local station.
Emergency officials advised neighbors to avoid the area due to the heavy presence of soot and smoke depleting the air quality and also asked nearby resident to avoid calling 911 unless it was an emergency.