It took firefighters about an hour to get a massive fire that sprang from the ground under control early Monday.
The flames were so high and so hot that they jumped into a neighboring apartment building off Monroe Road, destroying six homes.
"You're looking at a fire that's being fed by a gas line that's as hot or even more dangerous than gasoline," said Capt. Rob Brisley of the Charlotte Fire Department.
The blaze started after a crew working with a back hoe hit a gas line, which caught fire. The fire spread to nearby trees and the Runway Bay Apartments. Firefighters had to get the gas line turned off while continuously hosing down the apartments to try to keep them from burning to the ground.
Resident Aimee Schell watched the flames tear through her apartment.
"Everything I had was in there," she said. "I just made the move here a month ago. Everything was in there."
Tenants of 12 units were displaced by the fire. In addition to the six apartments that were destroyed, six others were damaged.
For hundreds of others living in the apartment community, the blaze came much too close to home.
"(I) saw the fire on the third floor, and I got everyone and got outside," said resident Roderick Ward.
After the fire was doused, firefighters and representatives from several utility companies took a closer look at the scene and determined the back hoe split an electrical line that sparked the fire and the gas line fueled the flames.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the fire.
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