Investigators: Juniper Bush was origin of apartment fire

9NEWS @ 9. 9/20/2016

KUSA - The Cunningham fire department says a Juniper bush in front of the Hunter’s Run Apartment Complex is responsible for torching 24 units.

Several families have been displaced after the fire sparked just before 4 p.m. on Monday.

The fire department hasn’t been able to identify what lit the bush, and have therefore classified it as an unknown cause.

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“All I could see was smoke. At that point I kind of knew I probably lost my apartment,” Lauren Lenox said.

Lenox was one of the seven people treated by medical staff at the complex during the fire. Her medications were inside her apartment and now lay ruined in ash.

“I've already had a fire before in my life so I have no idea what I'm doing next and yet I've already been through this,” she said.

The Red Cross has helped several families gather their bearings. Monday night they supplied hotel vouchers for those without a place to stay, although most had friends and families to room with.

“Huge smoke. There were lot of firefighters and lots of policemen,” Mostafa Hokoumi said who saw the flames when the complex was burning. “It was scary.”

It took 75 firefighters more than an hour and a half to extinguish the flames. Ruined wood and insulation now scatter the ground.

“Been through it before so I'll do it again,” Lenox said.

Residents say they will not be allowed back into the complex to salvage whatever they can until the end of the week.

Fire officials warn Junipers are among the least fire-resistant plants. They offered the following tips about the plants:

  • Junipers have thin evergreen foliage which burns quickly because of its texture.
  • They also contain flammable volatile oils, identifiable by their strong odor and sticky sap.
  • Junipers frequently have dry or dead wood and leaves within them. All these elements create a large potential for a fire.
  • If you have or plan on using junipers within your landscape, plant them at least 30 feet away from your home and other buildings.
  • If this is not possible keeping these plants regularly watered and pruned can help make the situation safer.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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