Woman says she heard no alarm during Richmond apartment fire: 'Check your fire detectors'

'At one point you couldn't even see the apartment complex...'
Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 18:08:34-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- With the sun up, contractors go to work boarding up windows at the Reserve South Apartments just off the Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond.

Overnight, a fire sparked there as Alecia Mannings and her sister got ready for bed.

"I smelled something from my bedroom, wasn't sure what it was," Mannings said.

Mannings said she heard no fire alarms go off, so she laid back down, but then she smelled it again.

"I opened by door and I saw a fire break out across the breezeway," Mannings said. "By that time it was heavy smoke in our apartment so we jumped out of the porch."

Alecia Mannings
Alecia Mannings

According to emergency dispatch communications, a caller reported the fire "started in the kitchen."

When firefighters began to attack the flames and look for people possibly trapped inside, one fireman asked for a ladder.

"Need a ladder to the second floor. Got one victim trapped on his balcony right now," a firefighter said to dispatch.

That victim, an adult male, ending up jumping off the balcony, according to the dispatch recording, and he was not the only resident injured.

"One female adult, looks like burns, smoke inhalation, another adult male just jumped from a balcony, probably smoke inhalation, possibly broken legs," a firefighter can be heard saying in emergency dispatch communications.

Reserve South Apartments
Fire at Reserve South Apartments

Mannings said she felt blessed to have gotten out uninjured.

The Red Cross helped four families overnight, and five more adults have since called to ask for assistance.

"Really heavy smoke, heavy flames. At one point you couldn't even see the apartment complex anymore," Mannings said.

After not hearing a smoke alarm, she has a message for others.

"Check your fire detectors and always be conscious about what is going on around you," Mannings said.

When asked if there were working smoke alarms in the apartment complex, Battalion Chief Earl Dyer, Richmond Fire Marshal, said he could "not confirm or deny that these devices were present or operated properly."

"The overarching responsibilities of ensuring that residential apartment complexes have operating smoke detectors rest with those properties' managers and their tenants," Dyer said.

WTVR CBS 6 has called the property manager, BH Management, to ask about the fire alarms, but we were still waiting to hear back as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday. We will update this story once we hear back.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.


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