NORFOLK, Va. - Eighteen people have been displaced after a two-alarm apartment fire in the 700 block of W. 27th Street Wednesday evening.
The call came in at 6:40 p.m. Arriving units with Norfolk Fire-Rescue found fire on the outside of the back of the building.
As firefighters began extinguishing the fire, flames were also spotted in a bedroom on the first and second floor. The fire extended into the attic, and a second alarm was then called.
According to Battalion Chief Harry Worley, all firefighters were ordered out of the building due to concerns for their safety. The fire was then attacked with large streams.
After knocking the fire down and with the roof now collapsed, authorities made the decision to call the building inspector out for an emergency demolition.
The entire street was blocked off while crews tried to get the fire under control, spraying water onto the building to extinguish any remaining hot spots.
News 3's Samantha German spoke to a mother of four who lived in the building that caught on fire. Through tears, she said she and her family have lived there for more than a year. She told us now she has nothing left.
"I lost everything my kids got," said Diane Wallace. "We don't have nothing now. We don't have nothing."
Wallace said she went to her neighbors' doors to make sure they got out of the building safely.
She went back to the home Friday afternoon after firefighters made the emergency demolition. Wallace said she hasn't eaten or slept since her reality has changed.
"I have no feelings. I got to figure out what I'm gonna do with my babies. That's all we had; now everything [is] gone," Wallace told News 3's Aleah Hordges.
The American Red Cross has provided shelter for the 18 people who have been displaced. Wallace said the organization gave her a $500 Visa gift card to help her pick up the pieces to her destroyed life.
"So I've been trying to hold onto the card," added Wallace. "I'm out here trying to find a little job a side job cutting grass so I can just try to get money up and get my kids a place to stay."
Courtney Sessoms, Wallace's sister, also lived in the apartment building and is wondering how to support her three children.
"Now this? I never would've thought. Everything was going good and now I have to start all over. I made some mistakes in my past and it was so hard to get in a place," she said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Wallace and her family.
The Norfolk Civic League also said they are working with the following local churches to help the victims:
- Garden of Prayer No. 3 on West 28th Street
- United Norfolk Methodist Church on North Military Hwy
- Abyssinia Baptist Church on Colley Avenue
No injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire is still unknown.