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Henrico apartment fire caused by chimney failure

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - As the sun shines on the Breckenridge apartment complex in the West End, the dark images of Friday night's devastating fire come to light.

Alexandria Shearin lives next to the unit where the fire started.  She smelled the smoke, but it wasn't until she walked outside and saw huge flames shooting from the roof.

"The pressure of it really didn't get to me until the firemen knocked on my door and told me to evacuate," Shearin said.

Shearin described the scene as a mass chaos because she said she never heard the smoke detector go off.

"Do they work?" CBS 6's Sandra Jones asked.  "I would assume they did," Shearin replied.  "But since the situation occurred, there were no sirens from the smoke detector," she said.  "I would say that they don't."

According to the Henrico County Fire Department, it took over an hour to put out the flames that damaged nearly two dozen apartments.

Investigators ruled the fire as accidental.  They say it started in a chimney shared by several apartment units, and there was some type of chimney failure.

One resident, who declined to show her face, told CBS 6 she's still shaken after losing nearly everything.

"Substantial damage," she said.  "Try to save things that sentimental value, but mostly everything is trash."

For Alexandria Shearin, she's just thankful everyone got out safely.

"I was thinking about my life and the life of anybody who might have been up there when the fire occurred."

According to the property manager, roughly 30 people had to be relocated to nearby hotels.  She says they are in constant contact with the tenants and are working with the Red Ross to move them to other apartment units in the complex sometime next week.