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Hague Towers residents concerned after fire prevents fire alarm from sounding

Residents say about half of the apartment complex lacked power for nearly two days after a small fire in a storage room

NORFOLK, Va. — A small storage room fire is causing big problems for residents in the Hague Towers apartments in Norfolk. 

Residents said about half of the building was without power for nearly two days after the fire. Power wasn't back on until around 6:00 p.m. Friday.

They also said the fire brings up additional safety concerns for the people living there, as fire and smoke alarms did not sound.

Norfolk Fire Rescue extinguished the second floor fire in the early morning hours on Thursday. Battalion Chief Damon Langley said the fire alarm did not sound as the fire burned through the wires that activate the alarm system. Langley said this was atypical, and called it an unfortunate 'perfect storm.'

Langley said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Residents are asking why there wasn't a backup fire alarm system to alert people of the danger. 

"I just don't feel that we're all safe and we want answers," resident Lisa Stoner said.

Stoner and others said the west half of Hague Towers was without power while electricians made repairs.

"There's no power, we're waiting for the city inspector, I am not confident," resident Amy Wolfson said Friday afternoon before the power was restored.

Langley said the fire department did not find any code violations, but Stoner still sees a big issue.

"If that small fire can cause this much damage where half of a 21-story high-rise building doesn't have power, I think it needs to be looked into further," Stoner said.

Wolfson, who lives two floors above the fire, said she smelled the smoke in her bedroom before she saw it throughout her apartment.

"It was very acrid, nasty, burning plastic," she said.

She grabbed her son and called 911 while evacuating the building.

"I've got a three-year-old, I can't take any chances," she said.

Wolfson said she worries for elderly residents in Hague Towers who may not be able to act as quickly if there's another fire.

"Something needs to be done because I feel like I got lucky because I happened to be [awake]," Wolfson said.

Hague Towers management said they could not answer any questions about the fire and deferred comments to a corporate number for JMG Realty in Atlanta. JMG Realty did not respond to requests for comment.

Management continues to send residents texts and email alerts about the fire. Residents said the power remained off while the apartment awaits inspection of a new electrical system in the storage closet where the fire originated. 

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