ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — One person was hurt and nearly two dozen others were displaced following a fire at an Elizabeth City apartment complex early Tuesday morning.
Firefighters said the call about the fire came in at 2:45 a.m. from the Emerald Lake Apartments, which are on the 1500 block of Emerald Lake Circle in the Old Oak section of Elizabeth City.
Elizabeth City Fire Chief Chris Carver said 11 apartment units were impacted, which has temporarily displaced 23 people.
For a few of the residents, they said they didn't spare a single second to help their families get out safely.
"I look out the window and I see this light...it was like an orange light," 11-year-old Jhemere Porter described what he saw when the fire alarms woke him up around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
He said he instinctively knew to get his mom and younger siblings out as soon as possible.
"It looked like there was a lot of smoke, so if there was a fire, it was going to be a big fire," said Jhemere. "It's a little scary because if anything different happened, if I didn't wake up, something bad could have happened."
The same scenario played out for Alliyah Caldwell who alerted her cousins about the fire.
"I came out of my room and looked out and my mother's room was completely engulfed in flames and I ran out. I called the police and then I ran in and got my cousins," said Caldwell. "The smoke was accumulating as I was banging on the door."
Her cousin, Cassandra Davis, said she woke up to Caldwell banging on the door.
"I'm sitting here like, what is wrong? What is wrong? She's running. I tried opening the door and that's when she said, 'The apartment is on fire,'" Davis explained.
The Elizabeth City Fire Chief said a firewall stopped the flames from reaching other units.
The American Red Cross is helping any residents who need assistance and officials said the hospitalized individual is expected to survive.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.