DANVILLE, Va. – Driving past the Cedar Terrace apartment complex on Memorial Drive on the way home from last night's city council meeting, Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones noticed smoke and flames coming from behind building 811.
"I turned around and came back. I didn't know what was going on. I immediately called 911," Jones said.
Wiring attached to the outside of the building had caught fire.
The charred wiring and burn marks on the building were visible Wednesday.
"There was smoke and fire and sparks coming from this area right here behind me," Jones said, standing a short distance away from the charred wiring. "I was able to knock on the two doors and get the people out...When I was knocking and banging on the doors, they did everything right. They said, 'Who is it? Who is it?' for safety. I said, 'It's the mayor! It's the mayor!' I tried to keep them calm."
The people living in the building have been displaced because the building is now without power.
10 News was unable to reach them Wednesday.
While the majority of the damage from the fire is to the outside, firefighters had to punch a hole in the ceiling inside one of the apartments.
When asked if he feels like a hero, Jones said he was just doing what he hopes anyone would do.
"There were so many people last night involved. It just amazes me about the wonderful things happening in Danville and throughout our community. I can't wait to meet the 911 person who was talking me through everything," he said.
"We have this saying in our community: 'If you see something, say something.' I actually was driving down Memorial Drive and I saw it and I got involved. People know how I feel about my city, they know how I feel about Danville, and I encourage everybody else to do the same."
He said firefighters believe the fire may have been started by an animal nesting in the electrical equipment outside the building.