Blacksburg apartment fire leaves students scrambling for housing

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Sixteen Virginia Tech students are now displaced after an off-campus apartment fire.

On August 21, emergency personnel responded to a call for an apartment fire off Center Street in Blacksburg.

“It was a weird mix of emotions,” said John Pearsall, a resident of the affected apartment building. “I started seeing smoke come out of my apartment and I was like ‘That is my stuff getting burnt right now.’”

When first responders arrived, they were confronted with a building billowing smoke.

“At first, it was like a joke every now and then,” said Pearsall. “We thought it would be fine and would be put out pretty quick, but it just kept going and going.”

David Chapman, a landlord in the area, was at the scene and said he witnessed almost the entire situation.

“I just walked on down here to see what was going on and before I got here, I could just see the smoke billowing out of the apartment,” said Chapman. “When I first walked onto the street, I couldn’t see the building.”

He said he immediately started asking questions about how this occurred.

“They thought due to a grill that was evidently too close to the building on the side it had caught the siding,” said Chapman.

He also said once the smoke cleared away, people could see how much damage the fire did.

“You could tell the fire was fairly extensive,” said Chapman.

The result of the fire has left a number of students scrambling to find housing right at the beginning of the semester.

Luckily, Virginia Tech officials said they are acting quickly to make sure these students have all their needs met.

“The work began last night to make sure that every student had a place to stay that evening and knows how to get the extended help, the longer-term help that they’re going to need,” said Mark Owczarski, Virginia Tech spokesperson.

Owczarski said in situations like this, these are the time the school’s motto, that I may serve, really comes into effect.

“The most important thing is all 16 students who were affected by that fire, are okay,” said Owczarski. “When something like this happens, it often takes so many people to help and assist. There are so many things we can do.”

Fire officials confirmed the fire was started by a grill that was too close to the building.

10 News has reached out to the owners of the apartment, Pointe West Management, to see if grills are allowed at their complexes and we are waiting to hear back from them.

About the Author:

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.