Greensboro Fire Department Releases Final Report On Deadly Summit Avenue Fire

Greensboro Fire Department Releases Final Report On Deadly Summit Avenue Fire

3:26pm Aug 27, 2018
The Summit Avenue apartment unit in Greensboro that caught fire in May, killing five children. DAVID FORD/WFDD

The Greensboro Fire Department has released its final report on the fire that killed five refugee children earlier this year.

The report’s conclusions are largely in line with the department’s initial assessment.

The May incident at the Summit Avenue apartments in Greensboro caught the attention of the community after five refugee children died in the early morning blaze. It also brought further scrutiny because of the condition of many of the units there.

At the time, fire inspectors believed the cause of the fire to be accidental, caused by a pot left on an unattended stove. The final report, obtained by WFDD’s David Ford, confirms those results in detail.

According to Greensboro Fire Investigator B.H. Crump, radiant heat from the left front stove burner caught some kind of organic matter on fire. Flames spread vertically to the ceiling and then horizontally across it, creating an atmosphere the department called “immediately dangerous to life and health.”

Earlier this month, the City of Greensboro condemned the apartments after it found hundreds of code violations had gone unaddressed by the owners. 

Residents of Summit Avenue, many of whom are refugees themselves, are now looking for new homes.

The 30-page report includes numerous photos of the scene and interviews with witnesses and other people of interest.

Investigators also say that, while their conclusions are based on “a reasonable degree of scientific certainty,” the very nature of fires means that certainty is not absolute. The report points out that each fire is unique and consumes evidence, which leaves some room for interpretation.

The department also says identifying who might have criminal or civil responsibility for the incident is beyond the scope of the report, and that additional details may be available from other investigating agencies.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the owners of the Summit Avenue apartments as Arco Realty, the property management company. The owners are three members of the Agapion family. 

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