Fire breaks out at Chapel Hill shopping center prompting evacuation

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – A fire at a Chapel Hill Shopping Center caused businesses to evacuate Thursday afternoon. 

Customers and employees of at least four businesses, including Whole Foods Market, in the Village Plaza shopping center, had to evacuate after a fire started on the roof of the building. 

Smoke filled Cava Mediterranean restaurant. The awning above the restaurant caught fire.

Tamsey Hill needed to pick up some things at Whole Foods, but seeing firefighters around concerned her. 

“I hope I can get in,” she said.  

Driving in from Pittsboro, Hill said for her every minute counts. However, the fire department evacuated the buildings for safety.

“If they knew where it was, and it was in just one area, and they didn’t need to evacuate, that would’ve been great,” Hill said.  

Chapel Hill Fire Chief Matthew Sullivan told CBS 17, initially, he didn’t know the extent of the fire.  

“When we first got here we didn’t know whether or not the fire had spread to other areas of the building so we evacuated under the abundance of caution to make sure the fire hadn’t run to other businesses in the adjacent property,” Sullivan said.  

CBS 17 has learned construction crews were working to renovate the building. The fire started from a spark ignited by a blow torch. Crews put the fire out in minutes. 

Sullivan understands the inconvenience for shoppers.

“Parking lots are crowded and clustered, we had folks blocked in for a little bit, everybody was patient, and we appreciate that,” he said.  

There’s no word on how much damage the fire caused. 

While happy that no one has any injuries, Hill is moving on.  

“Not that I’m that busy of a person, but I don’t want to fill my time up with just shopping,” she said.  

The fire chief told CBS 17 right now no one is facing charges in this active investigation. 

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