Main Street Fire Sparks Community Giving
The big hearts and generous hands of the Clayton community have come out in full force after an apartment fire on September 24th left four families with their homes and belongings destroyed. Weeks after the fire, donations continue to pour into various community and church groups for the victims.
Saturday, October 6th, the Woman's Club of Clayton, plans to collect items for the families from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at their headquarters on Church Street across from the library. A group of giving mothers from Amelia Christian Church have essentially adopted the family who's 10-month-old little boy had to be hospitalized immediately following the fire. Serve the Need in Johnston County also began collecting donations for the families.
The victims are slowing getting back on their feet and want to thank the Clayton community for helping to meet their needs.
The 911 call came in around 1:30 Monday afternoon at the eight-unit apartment complex at 444 Main Street. It's just down the street from TR Lee Oil at the corner of Main and Robertson. One couple, who was busy preparing dinner for their 15th wedding anniversary in a first floor apartment, said their ceiling tiles began falling in and they immediately ran outside and saw the smoke. Firefighters said flames were shooting up the back of the two-story complex in downtown Clayton when they arrived.
Everyone evacuated safely. But a total of 12 people, including 5 children, lost much of their belongings to fire, water and smoke damage. The American Red Cross has been helping those families with food, clothing and a place to stay. Four units were destroyed, but firefighters were able to save four others from the spreading flames.
It looks like we may never know the exact cause. Investigators DID determine the fire was accidental, however, they simply could not pinpoint the source of the ignition. The cause will officially be listed as “undetermined.” Using witness information and evidence at the scene, Clayton Fire Marshal Tony Atkinson, along with county and insurance investigators, concluded the fire originated somewhere on a back deck near an upper level stair case, but again, the exact source is unknown.
Main Street had to be shut down from Robertson to Moore Streets and remained closed until shortly after 5 pm.
The Town of Clayton has reached out to each of the four families and learned that many of them are still simply trying to figure out what they lost. We’ve received several inquiries from members of the community wishing to help the families and have been able to connect them with organized groups willing to collect and deliver the items.
Around 50 firefighters in total responded. The Clayton Fire Department would like to thank Garner Fire Department, Archer Lodge Fire, and Johnston County EMS for all of their assistance. Cleveland Fire was put on standby to handle any calls for Clayton while crews worked the fire. Through their quick response, crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to the entire complex.