Roanoke Rapids, NC – Suspicious fire at apartment complex kept in check by sprinkler system

Roanoke Rapids police are investigating a suspicious fire which caused more than an estimated $30,000 in damages to an apartment in the Jesslyn Drive area Sunday night.

Captain Charles Vaught said in a statement, Sergeant J. Spragins was working off-duty at Chapel Ridge Apartments shortly before 6:30 p.m. when he heard a fire-alarm go off in one of the buildings of the complex.

He immediately started checking the building to ensure everyone was OK. 

Upon smelling something burning in the building he began evacuation until he could determine the source of the smoke. 

The fire department arrived and located the burning apartment. 

With assistance from firefighters, detectives canvassed the apartment to determine what happened and were able to speak with the tenant who lives in the dwelling. 

Detectives are currently investigating to determine if charges will be filed.

Roanoke Rapids Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Gray said this morning there were multiple areas of origin. In two of the areas ignited, two of the sprinkler heads activated. “There was a lot of water damage,” he said. “It was more water than fire damage.”

Gray said the sprinkler system kept the fire in check.

Firefighters from Station 2 observed smoke coming from the door of the apartment and made forced entry to check for anyone inside. There was no one in the dwelling.

Gray would only say the fire appeared to be suspicious and firefighters assisted the police department with the initial investigation before handing the matter over to investigators.

Some residents had to be relocated until the sprinkler system was restored.

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