Woman describes escaping Tuesday’s Richmond apartment fire with her baby & sister

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Dozens of people were forced out of their homes in the early morning of Nov. 16, after a large apartment fire on Richmond’s Southside.

Four agencies responded to the fire, including Richmond Fire, Chesterfield Fire, Richmond Police and the Richmond Ambulance Authority.

Hours later, smoke could still be seen and smelled in the air at the Foxwood Apartments on Snead Road.

No one was injured in the fire, but 36 people were forced out of their homes, including Que Layne, who lived on the third floor. She said she heard a person yelling that there was a fire early Tuesday morning.

“I was in the living room,” Layne said. “I tried to get my door open. It wouldn’t come open.”

She escaped the building, rushing out with her sibling and their child.

“I ran to the back and got my sister and my little baby, and I ran out the door,” Layne said.

After she got out, Layne said she saw the third floor was gone and it had “burnt up.”

In total, 11 apartments either caught fire or are damaged with smoke or water. The Richmond Fire Department added that the most damaged apartment had no working smoke alarms. 

The Virginia Red Cross confirmed nine of the 11 units impacted had people inside. Jonathan McNamara, with the Virginia Red Cross, said the organization is helping 31 people impacted by the fire.

“As the temperatures start to drop, unfortunately, we do see an increase in not only large apartment fires like this but also home fires in the community,” he said.

The fire department said 21 of the 36 people forced out of their homes are children.

The Richmond Fire Investigations Unit said it has classified the cause as undetermined, but they have ruled out human conduct as a contributing factor. The fire also appears to have originated in the attic.

RFD said investigators also found that the most damaged apartment had no working smoke alarms. They remind the public that the department installs smoke alarms for free.

Residents can call the fire prevention office at (804) 646-6640 or the smoke alarm request line at (804) 646-1526 to schedule an appointment.

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