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‘Suspicious’ apartment fire that displaced 13 people in Winston-Salem may be arson

WINSTON SALEM, N.C. – Police believe the apartment fire in Winston-Salem that displaced 13 people on Saturday morning could be arson.

Officers were called to Salem Gardens Apartments at 23 Salem Gardens Drive, Apt. D in reference to a housebreaking call shortly after 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Police said the building was on fire, the same place where a series of phone calls happened between a girlfriend who lived there and her boyfriend.

Kiwana lives next door. She said her smoke alarms didn't pick up the smoke that filled the air. What woke her up was a brave officer going door to door.

"If it wasn't for them or the officer that knocked on my door, me and my son would've been dead inside of there yesterday," Kiwana said.

They barely escaped with the clothes on their backs.

Jennifer Keller lives in the same complex and witnessed the aftermath. Now she and Brenda Black are working together to help the affected families.

"That's the worst fear of a house fire is losing everything you have," Keller said.

So far, they've collected trunk loads of items. Most of it will help the affected kids who attend Hall-woodward Elementary School.

"Most clothes but that's just the beginning," Black said.

As of right now, their biggest needs are book bags, shoes and personal hygiene items.

"It's heartbreaking because I was one a fire victim," Black said.

Now it's only right to return the help that was once given their time of need.

"It's something that I need to do," Keller said. "It's in my heart."

Authorities have not released a cause or possible motive in the fire.