Officials have identified the body of a man found in the rubble of Tuesday night's fire at the Brookstone Apartments complex.
The victim, Roger Vanden Dorpel, 51, was employed by UNC Hospitals in the diagnostic radiology department as an X-ray technician. He lived at 1116 Brookstone Apartments.
"His co-workers liked him very much, and they are devastated," said Lynn Wooten, spokesman for UNC Hospitals. "It's a great shock."
Officials are now working to identify the cause of the blaze, which also injured two women and destroyed eight units at the complex, located off Homestead Road. Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones said the fire marshal's office and the State Bureau of Investigation are handling the investigation. "They're out there as we speak," Jones said. "It's a pretty involved process."
Jones said there is no way to predict when the investigation will be completed.
"It could take anywhere from three or four days to a month," Jones said. "Only the simplest fires can be solved quickly."
Melanie Thomas, SBI special agent in charge of the capital district, also said she does not know how long the investigation will take. "We don't have a timetable," Thomas said. "We could feasibly be there all day and back tomorrow."
Thomas said the site must be deemed safe before investigators can begin work.
"The first thing we consider is the safety issue," Thomas said. "We have to make it safe before the arson investigators arrive. The length of the investigation depends on how quickly they can get the debris moved out."
Brenda Measamer, regional vice president of Pinnacle Realty Management Company in Raleigh, which oversees Brookstone, estimated damage to be about $500,000.
"If it's just those eight units, it's about half a million (dollars)," Measamer said. "We'll definitely bulldoze what's left and start from scratch."
The damaged units did not have sprinklers because the buildings were erected before sprinklers were required by law, Jones said. "There's nothing under the law we can do," he said. "When they rebuild, they'll have to have sprinklers. Anything bigger than 5,000 square feet must have sprinklers."
Measamer said she does not know if sprinklers will be installed in other buildings at Brookstone.
"I wouldn't make that decision," Measamer said. "It would come from our main office."
Jones said renters must ask their apartment managers for sprinklers to improve safety.
"We're advocating it any way we can," Jones said. "When people start asking for it, then apartment managers and complexes will start doing it.
"If people want to be safe, they need to say they need sprinklers."
Alyson Jackson-Snavely, director of emergency services for the Orange County chapter of the Red Cross, said the organization continues to provide services for those whose homes were destroyed by the fire.
"We offer the big three -- food, shelter and clothing," she said. "We just bought clothes for two victims whose apartment was completely destroyed."
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