WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- When a fire broke out yesterday at the Meridian Village Apartments, firefighters initially thought the building was empty. At least one family, though, was home. They made it out safely, but they lost just about everything they had, including a child's beloved pet.
"The fire took Charlie, and Charlie ran away," four-year-old Luke Hall said of his cat. It's just one of many treasured items he and his family lost Thursday when fire ripped through their apartment building at Meridian Village on Northchase Parkway.
Diane Johnson was home with her grandson and daughter when the fire started directly below them.
"I got to smelling something, and i said, 'Do you smell that? is something burning?' and she said, 'yeah,'" Johnson said, "and I got up, went to her storm door, and they got a little patio, they are upstairs, and I saw the smoke coming between the boards, and I turned and said, 'Grab Luke. It's a fire.'"
The family got out. Johnson said about 10 minutes later the apartment was engulfed in flames. She and her daughter then thought of their neighbors.
"We were going to apartments and knocking on doors saying, 'Get out! Get out! There is a fire.," Johnson said.
While Johnson and her family got out, their loss was complete.
A day later, Johnson thinks of what could have happened.
"What if i had not been there, and my grandson was taking his nap, or my daughter was resting from studying?" she asked. "Who would have gotten them out?"
Johnson says the fire alarm in the apartment did not go off. Meanwhile, investigators still do not know how the fire started.