Tenants coping after large apartment fire, cause remains under investigation

- "You can't get this back," Lisa Gadsden said. 

Gadsden is in disbelief to find her children's high school diplomas still intact after Thursday's fire destroyed her home at the Willow Ridge Apartment Complex.

"I’m glad that I preserved them the way that I did and when I saw them on the news last night, I just cried because we were talking about a lot of things we lost," Gadsden explained. 

Related: 2 firefighters treated for heat exhaustion after massive apartment fire in Pineville

Gadsden rushed over when her brother called to tell her, her home was on fire.

"To just stand across over there and just watch your house burn. I can't imagine. I can't explain how I felt at that time," Gadsden said.

Ismail Aslimani got a similar call from a police officer just moments after he left his home.

"I saw fire and the fire department trying to get everything straight," Aslimani said.

More than 50 firefighters from Pineville and Charlotte spent more than six hours battling the flames. Two suffered heat exhaustion and 16 apartments now completely damaged. The building has been declared unsafe but overall no one was injured severely.

"I appreciate their help and I’m glad to be alive," Aslimani said.

Aslimani came back to try and see if he could salvage any of his belongings.

"Nobody can go inside the building. It's not safe to go inside"

Willow Ridge Apartment management rallied neighbors to collect donations and with help from the Red Cross. They are doing everything they can to get all 28 people back on their feet quickly.

"They have a unit available for me. I was going to come see if I can find anything, ray told me it's unsafe, I can't go in so now, so I’m going to look at my new unit and go from there. Start the rebuilding process," Gadsden said.

Firefighters say strong winds caused the fire to spread so quickly.

The Mecklenburg Fire Marshal is still investigating the fire and hasn't released any information on what caused it.

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