GREENSBORO, N.C. – Greensboro fire investigators announced Monday afternoon that the apartment fire on Summit Avenue Saturday morning started in the kitchen. They are working to get a more specific answer about the cause by the end of the week. Right now, they are looking into the possibility that a stove was on or malfunctioned.
All five children -- three boys and two girls -- who were in the apartment on Saturday have died. Two of the children died Saturday and the remaining three died Sunday after being taken off life support at the children's hospital.
The fire happened at the apartment complex at 3100 Summit Avenue near Cone Boulevard. Greensboro Fire Marshal Henshaw said in a press conference Monday that he believes the fire was an accident.
The names of the victims have not been released. The five children ages ranged from 18 months to 9 years old. An adult was treated and released at Moses Cone Hospital.
The victims were a refugee family that came to the area from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016, according to Latosha Walker, North Carolina African Services Coalition operations manager.
According to a press release from the N.C. Department of Insurance, the apartment had smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms but they were not working at the time of the fire.
State Fire Marshal Mike Causey reminded residents on Monday of a North Carolina law requiring all rental properties have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ family and our sincere gratitude goes out to the firefighters and emergency responders who dealt with this incident,” said Commissioner Causey. “This horrific tragedy is a startling reminder of the importance of having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Everyone should remember to check alarms on each floor, change the batteries frequently, and have an emergency preparedness plan and a way to get out in case of a fire.”
Under North Carolina law, landlords are required to provide tenants with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and maintain their functionality.
Under Senate Bill 77, which was passed into law on December 31, 2012, landlords are required to do the following:
- Provide operable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, either battery-operated or electrical, and install them in accordance with the standards of the National Fire Protection Association.
- When installing a new smoke alarm or replacing an existing smoke alarm, the landlord must install a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm.
- Replace or repair broken smoke alarms within 15 days after receiving notification from the tenant.
FOX8 reached out to the owners of the complex, Arco Realty, and received this statement:
"It is with the deepest sympathy that we receive the unbelievably, horribly tragic news of this past Saturday morning. Our hearts are extremely heavy and our prayers go out to the family and community."
Arco Realty said they are cooperating with investigators.