CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A fire broke out in an apartment building at Birchwood at Boulder Apartments around 3:45 a.m. Saturday, leaving 27 residents displaced from their homes.
The Virginia Red Cross provided aid to 35 residents of the building impacted by the fire, providing money for food, housing and more. Red Cross spokesperson Jonathan McNamara noted the importance of also offering emotional support during these times of crises.
“There’s a lot of stress and anxiety involved, and we really want to make sure we’re there to be able to support them through that part,” said McNamara.
Lesley Johnson, a resident of the complex, said her entire unit was destroyed and she now needs to find a new place to live. She’s staying with family temporarily, but said the toll and trauma from the fire on her mental health is heavy. She described the moment she realized what was happening.
“There was a lot of yelling,” Johnson said. “Then I just started freaking out.”
When she opened her patio door, Johnson saw flames and she knew she had to evacuate quickly, grabbing her cats on the way out. She was only able to grab one feline. Johnson had to leave one inside, while the Chesterfield Fire Department worked to put out the fire. All animals were recovered safely, but the physical damage on some units, like Johnson’s is too extensive for repair.
“I won’t be able to return to my apartment,” Johnson said.
She said it was primarily water damage that destroyed her apartments and her belongings inside.
“When I did go in, there was water dripping from the ceiling,” Johnson said. “There was stuff falling out of the ceiling. Even right now, there was glass hanging from the porch.”
Immediately following the fire, three residents and a firefighter were transported to the hospital. They have since been released. The Chesterfield Fire Department is still investigating the fire. Right now, the cause remains unknown.