‘I’m scared people are going to die’: 911 calls released in devastating fire at Carolina Beach condos

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Fire crews battle fire at Paradise Cove Condominiums on April 2, 2021 (Photo: Celeste Smitih/WWAY)

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Numerous calls were made to the New Hanover County 911 center last Friday as a condominium complex in Carolina Beach went up in flames.

Those calls were released to WWAY on Wednesday. Many of them were from people who were traveling or living near the area and saw a large plume of smoke.

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One call made to dispatch was from a man who lived at the Paradise Cove condos. You can hear him breathing heavily as fire alarms chimed in the background.

Caller: Please send help. It’s a big fire. My place is burning down and I’m scared there are people here. There are people trying to get out of the doors.
Dispatch: How many floors or stories are there?
Caller: It’s three. I’m scared people are going to die.
Dispatch: Where is in the building is the fire?
Caller: The whole building. The whole building. There are people jumping out of the windows.
Dispatch: What floor is the fire on?
Caller: It’s on all three. It’s going up crazy since I’ve called you. A lady is trying to jump out the window. Let me go help her.
Dispatch: Sir, I want you to stay where you’re safe.
Caller: Oh gosh, she just jumped out of the window.
Dispatch: What floor is she on?
Caller: She jumped out of the second floor. She’s laying on the ground.
Dispatch: Is anyone injured?
Caller: She could have broken her leg, I don’t know. This is bad. Oh my god. Let me go help her.
The call ends shortly after as the fire department arrives on the scene.

Several radio calls were also released to WWAY that show the tremendous response from other fire and police agencies.

“So ahead and send at least three,” one firefighter could be heard saying in a radio call. “Send three engines at this time, three engines. We got a couple of victims. We got a three-story, multiple structure complex.”

WWAY spoke with Callie Ryan, who jumped from her third-story balcony, earlier this week. She was left seriously injured but is expected to be OK. She claims that fire alarms and sprinklers did not go off at her unit.

On Wednesday, Carolina Beach Fire Chief Alan Griffin says the department “has verified that the fire protection system inspection was completed and was in compliance with its required annual inspection of its fire alarm and sprinkler system.”

Four people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities say three people, including Ryan, jumped to escape the blaze.

24 condos sustained some sort of damage. Carolina Beach officials say gusty winds that day caused the fire to spread rapidly.

Authorities are still working to find out what started the devastating blaze.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Pleasure Island Disaster Fund to help those impacted by the fire. More than $66,000 has been raised so far.