Cause determined in two-alarm apartment fire

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A two-alarm fire in Ocean View Monday evening has displaced 22 people.

Battalion Chief Julian Williamson with Norfolk Fire and Rescue said the fire ignited in a 10-unit apartment building in the 1200 block of East Ocean View Avenue. A 911 call about the fire came in to emergency dispatchers at 5:40 p.m. Fire units were on the scene four minutes later.

PHOTOS: Firefighters battle blaze at Norfolk apartments

Williamson said light smoke was showing from the outside of the building, but the fire advanced quickly to the attic and roof. Crews had to call a second alarm for additional units to respond to the scene.

Most of the fire was knocked down by 6:30 p.m.

Williamson said a tenant of the building alerted all occupants by knocking on doors and telling them there was a fire. This allowed everyone to escape safely.

Gary Newsham said he was asleep in his apartment when he heard someone knock on the door about four times.

“The flames were coming through the roof and it was real heavy smoke,” he said. “A lot of us were behind, they didn’t have all the yellow tape up yet, we were still up there, and they said, ‘Get back, get back,’ and it was real bad.”

Newsham said he planned to stay with a relative. “Thank God my daughter-in-law talked me into getting insurance, renter’s insurance, so I should be okay with that, but it’s going to take a while to get all the stuff in,” he said.

Another resident said her dog slipped out of her arms when she tried to get her out, but crews later rescued the pup.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental. Williamson said combustible materials stored too close to a water heater caused the flames.

The American Red Cross is assisting all of the displaced residents with shelter, food and clothing, based on individual needs. The owner of the building said he hoped he would be able to rebuild and had a few vacancies in another building for some of the displaced residents.

East Ocean View Avenue was blocked between the 1000 block and the 1400 block, while crews put out the fire.

No further information has been released. Stay with for updates on this developing story.

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