CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va (WRIC) – Colonial Village at Waterford, an apartment complex in Chesterfield, caught fire a couple of weeks ago, leaving 19 people without a home.
This was the second fire at the complex within the last six months.
The first fire, in January, was in a different building on Pavilion Place that left 17 people without a home.
The most recent fire was on June 7. Firefighters arrived at the scene at 6:32 p.m., just minutes after the first call about the fire.
Andrew Alvarez is one of the 19 people forced out of their homes due to the fire in June. He said he was terrified, rushing out of the building through the thick smoke.
“It was my worst nightmare come true,” Alvarez told 8News Monday.
He lived just two apartments away from where the fire started, in the ductwork connected to a dryer.
“When I heard the banging on the door, I didn’t expect a Chesterfield police officer to be telling me to get out of the building because it was on fire,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he’s ‘extremely lucky’ he didn’t make the decision to get in the shower minutes before flames and smoke erupted in the building.
“I didn’t have any time to grab anything, just my shorts, my wallet and my phone and the dog,” he said as he recalled the moments leading up to him being able to escape his apartment.
Although now moved into another apartment, Alvarez lost everything in his living room, kitchen and all of the equipment he uses to DJ.
The smoke, he said, was so thick it also ruined his bed. Alvarez compared this incident to when he lived in New York during 9/11, during which a fire claimed his apartment.
“I was 12 blocks away from 9/11,” he said. “It reminded me of 9/11 as I’m coming out of the building, I’m watching all the firemen come in with the hoses on their back.”
Alvarez said he’s heard the other 18 people are staying at hotels or with family — but for now, he’s looking on the bright side.
“It’s just another bump in the road for me,” Alvarez said. “I’ve just got to keep my head up and keep going.”