WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- What appears to be an intentionally set fire threatened the homes of several families Tuesday night.
Tenants of the Salem Crest Apartments in Winston-Salem say around 10:30, firefighters began knocking on their doors.
“The fire department’s like, ‘There’s a fire, get out now,’” said Austin Freeman, who witnessed firefighters entering the smoldering apartment.
“Smoke just came pouring out when they opened it,” Austin said.
For hours, residents were forced to stand outside in the frigid temperatures as firefighters fought to keep the fire contained to the single apartment.
“Emergency vehicles everywhere, everybody just – not screaming – but just panicking,” said Austin’s brother, William Freeman. “You had people running down in their pajamas, everything, everybody was about to go to bed and it was crazy.”
Winston-Salem police tell FOX8 they believe someone broke into the apartment and set a fire inside. They are officially calling it an arson investigation.
“The fire department said if they had gotten here much later than the whole building would have been up in flames,” Austin said.
Police say the residents of the apartment where the fire was set were not home at the time. Nobody was injured as a result.