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Residents in search of housing after fire at Norfolk waterfront apartments

Dozens of people will spend a couple more days forced from their apartment homes after a fire broke out Sunday afternoon.

NORFOLK, Va. — On the outside, there is little damage showing a fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Roebuck apartments in Norfolk Sunday afternoon. On the inside, a damaged apartment unit isn't the only problem keeping residents out.

"It is still listed as under investigation," said Norfolk Fire Rescue Battalion Fire Chief Stephanie Ramsey. "I believe they are leaning towards accidental."

Ramsey said investigators don't have an answer as to how exactly the fire started but said it was contained within a specific unit on the fourth floor. Ramsey said the water that crews used to put out the fire damaged the entire building's electrical system.

"A lot of times, water causes more damage than the fire itself, and I think that is the case here," said Ramsey.

Because of this damage, dozens of residents still can't go back inside. It's a frustrating situation for David Bernhardt who has lived there with his wife over the past several months.

"I checked the place out and saw smoke on the fourth floor, so the wife and I grabbed the animals and got out," said Bernhardt.

He said he and his wife grabbed their belongings quickly before leaving the building after the fire broke out. Now, they're left wondering where to stay.

"We're still trying to find a place to stay. We don't want to impose on our friends and couch surf, so we're trying to find a hotel room in which we could stay, but they're all booked up," said Bernhardt. "We're trying Air BnB's, we're looking at time-shares, even. We're just looking to find a place to call home for a few days."

Managers with the Roebuck Apartments sent the residents a letter, saying they are anticipating the process to restore power and allow residents back into the building could take until Wednesday.

A crew with the American Red Cross is working with the residents to offer gift cards for hotel stays and other ways to assist them while they wait to get back into their apartment units.

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