CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Two construction workers remain missing as firefighters across Charlotte battled a massive five-alarm fire Thursday at a construction site in the city’s SouthPark area. Fifteen other workers were rescued earlier Thursday.

In addition to the multiple rescues, one person was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, and two others were evaluated at the scene, officials confirmed.

The apartment complex fire broke out just after 9 a.m. Thursday, in the 7700 block of Liberty Row Drive. Large black clouds of smoke and flames could be seen from miles away.

Thick smoke and soot were filling the streets surrounding the immediate area. Many were observed watching the fire, wearing masks, and coughing as crews responded.

Emergency officials warned everyone to avoid the area as smoke was decreasing air quality.

More than 90 firefighters responded to the fire and battled the flames in conditions over 2,000 degrees, the Charlotte Fire chief said.

Charlotte Fire plans to remain at the scene indefinitely.

Crane operator rescue

A construction worker was observed trapped on top of a crane at the scene of the large fire in the SouthPark area on Thursday. The man has since been rescued.

He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Charlotte Fire said. The crane operator was one of 15 workers rescued from the construction site.

The Waxhaw Fire Chief told Queen City News the crane operator in SouthPark was rescued by first “putting plenty of water on the crane to ensure the metal didn’t twist or collapse.”

“Then firefighters climbed over 100 feet up the crane to help rescue the operator who had begun climbing down,” the chief said.

Medics reported that one person was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and two others were evaluated and refused transport. Medical teams remain at the scene providing support to firefighters.

Impacts of fire observed miles away

Residents reported charred debris landing in neighborhoods roughly two miles away.

Charlotte Medic confirmed to Queen City News multiple units responded to the scene, as well as units from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, in addition to Charlotte Fire.

Crews continued to extinguish “spot” and “rooftop fires” in the area.

A public safety alert was sent out to nearby residents. “CFD is battling a large fire in SouthPark, do not call 911 unless you have an emergency.”

Second fire reported

Crews in Charlotte responded to a second separate fire just streets away from the original fire at the Rocket Mortgage building. An employee told Queen City News they were evacuated after debris from the nearby blaze fell onto their roof.

Road closures

CMPD is assisting the Charlotte Fire Department with road closures in the area. Please avoid the SouthPark area and seek alternate routes. Drivers should avoid:

  • Liberty Row Drive
  • Fairview Road
  • Assembly Street
  • Barclay Downs Drive
  • Park South Drive