May 23, 2023 - News

Two people confirmed dead after huge fire in SouthPark

Firefighters fight a five-alarm in SouthPark.

Photo: Andy Weber

Two people died after a five-alarm fire broke out at a construction site in SouthPark Thursday morning, Charlotte Fire Department confirmed at a press conference Friday evening.

  • The remains were sent to the coroner’s office, which identified the bodies and alerted next of kin.
  • Mayor Vi Lyes confirmed one of the deceased is Demonte Sherrill on Friday, May 19. CFD confirmed Ruben Holmes also died in the fire, on Tuesday, May 23. Their remains were discovered on May 19, per CFD.

State of play: CFD was still onsite checking for hotspots and evaluating the scene to see if they can allow firefighters to leave the site and return to their stations as of Friday evening.

  • It has been deemed an accidental fire, which started in a spray insulation foam trailer on the ground floor, CFD Chief Reginal Johnson told reporters.
  • All major roads in the area are open. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police is directing traffic around the scene on Barclay Downs Drive. Use caution while driving.
  • People are able to get to their cars. Contact your insurance provider if your car sustained damage because of the fire.
  • Compliance officers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the deadly fire, WSOC reports.

Of note: CFD had two mayday calls yesterday, meaning firefighters were trapped while trying to put out the fire and had to be rescued.

  • More than 90 firefighters rescued 15 people. Johnson told reporters all of their firefighters are physically OK.
  • While you don’t need to bring anything to the scene for the firefighters, they’re never going to turn away a gesture of thanks at their local firehouse, CFD Captain Jackie Gilmore tells Axios.

What they’re saying: CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings told reporters he has been with the department for 31 years and has never seen a fire of this magnitude. Both CMPD, CFD and the city offered their condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

  • “I live just a few blocks form where the fire occurred, and I walk by it often,” Lyles told reporters. She added there will be a lot more to be said about the fire, but it’s important to get the information right.
  • District 6 Charlotte City Council Rep. Tariq Bokhari, who represents the area where the fire took place said they have “already begun to think about how we can forever memorialize the heroics …. we have seen over the last 30 hours. And when the time is right we will move to create something we can all be proud of.”
  • Bokhari organized a GoFundMe for Sherrill’s family.

Read more: How to help after massive fire at Charlotte construction site

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. 

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