Construction worker dies in huge building fire in Charlotte, family says; 2nd worker still missing

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Friday, May 19, 2023
Construction worker dies in huge Charlotte fire, family says
Fifteen construction workers were rescued but one did not survive, his family said. Another worker remains unaccounted for.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A construction worker died in a huge fire at an apartment building under construction near SouthPark Mall, family members told ABC affiliate WSOC.

His family said 30-year-old Demonte Sherrill, a father of four children ages 5 to 13, died in the fire. The Charlotte Fire Department has not yet confirmed any deaths.

"I'm still in shock," his mother, Onita Sherrill told WSOC. "Numb really. Numb about the whole situation."

Another construction worker remains unaccounted for after the large, fast-moving fire broke out at the construction site Thursday morning, the city's fire chief said.

Fifteen workers, including a crane operator, were rescued by the more than 90 firefighters called to the five-alarm blaze in the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte just after 9 a.m., Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said at a news conference.

The crane operator was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Johnson said.

Worker rescued from massive Charlotte fire.

The fire moved very rapidly and as crews worked to rescue all of the construction workers in the building, on two occasions, firefighters got trapped and had to be rescued by fellow firefighters, Johnson said.

"The men and women of this department put themselves in harm's way and actually had to call for assistance themselves to get out of this fire. That's how fast it was moving," Johnson said. "I'm proud of the work that we've done here."

Images from the scene showed tall flames and a yellow crane could be seen amid huge clouds of smoke. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police tweeted a request for people not to call 911 except in an emergency while the fire department battles the blaze.

Investigators on the scene will determine the cause of the fire, Johnson said.

The fire sparked at a building that was under construction, according to reports from ABC affiliate WSOC. Witnesses told WSOC the fire started in a parking garage where crews were installing foam insulation. The machine being used to push the insulation is what they believe caught fire first.

Credit: @TheHomeT / Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this report.