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Clean up continues after massive fire destroys UNCG apartment complex

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GREENSBORO, N.C. --The cleanup continued Friday after a massive fire in Greensboro destroyed an apartment complex under construction on West Lee Street.

The building was set to house 230 UNCG students starting this Fall and was about 70% complete.

It was part of Spartan Village, a four-building housing development that could room up to 800 students total.

Now the biggest of the four buildings will have to be rebuilt because of a fire Thursday night.

No one was hurt in the fire, but more than 70 fire and police personnel and the Red Cross were all on the scene through Friday afternoon.

Part of West Lee Street near South Tate Street is still blocked off.

About 30 UNCG students were evacuated from The Lofts on Lee, an apartment building next to Spartan Village.

"We were able to accommodate all of the students. They're either staying with friends or family or we accommodated them in the residence halls," UNCG Chancellor Lynda Brady told FOX8.

In a press release, UNCG officials said about sixty students have already paid deposits to live in the building that caught fire.

"We do have a number of options we're looking at to house them elsewhere on the campus," explained Chancellor Brady. "So we believe that we will be able to fully meet our housing needs in the Fall."

UNCG Alumni Fran Nolan lives just down the road and was upset to see the extent of the damage at Spartan Village.

"I'm really disappointed by it," he said. "I've been a big supporter among Glenwood residents for the construction of UNCG facilities in our neighborhood. It's a huge help to our neighborhood. This is definitely a setback."

Nolan said the new apartments were expected to rejuvenate West Lee Street and Glenwood and bring more business to the area.

Friday, however, the aftermath of the fire halted sales completely for many businesses inside the perimeter of the scene where roads were blocked off.

"That's the first time I've seen it like that on a Friday," said Ralph Havis, pointing at his empty cash register.

Havis has co-owned and operated Beef Burger on Lee Street for more than fifty years. He was working last night when the building just a block away caught fire.

"About nine o'clock I looked over and a big old blaze was coming out of the buildings. I said, oh man. The building's on fire!"

Even as smoke continued to pour out of Spartan Village Friday afternoon, Havis' grills never fired up.

"Not a single customer," he said. "Plus we've got the ACC going on and we've advertised up there with the ACC people."

Havis decided to shut down the restaurant and head home. He plans to reopen Saturday.

Just up the road, every parking spot was empty at West Lee Shopping Center. It's home to about ten different businesses including Fame Barber Shop.

"At this point I haven't had a customer. So for a Friday close to the weekend and the ACC fans being here it's taken a hit because of the fire," said Barber Vashon Totten.

He said they are relieved no one was hurt in the fire and hope business can double up this weekend.

Business owners say they were told to expect road closures on West Lee until midnight Friday, possibly longer.

Engineers were inspecting the site Friday to make sure the building was structurally sound enough for fire investigators to enter.

There is still no word on the cause of the fire.