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Elderly, disabled scramble for safety after Kinston apartment fire

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KINSTON, N.C. -

Elderly and disabled people scrambled for help Wednesday after a high-rise apartment building in Kinston caught fire and then lost power.

The electrical fire started at 1:30 a.m. in the second-floor maintenance room at the Kinston Towers at 511 North Queen Street.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, but all electricity to the building was lost and firefighters had to help residents find safety.

Anne Mewbore, 88, said, "I had to walk the steps as best I could. And someone had to help me from the 10th floor."

Firefighters had to carry wheelchair-bound 84-year-old Ester Brown down seven floors.

"The firemen busted the door open and got to my bed. I'm in a wheelchair and they couldn't get my wheelchair down the stairs," Brown said.

A total of 141 residents were moved to Fairfield Center and eight were transferred to Lenoir Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

Power at the building is expected to be out for three to 10 days, according to the Kinston Housing Authority.

The American Red Cross is working to find them temporary shelter at area hotels.

The Red Cross also provided "comfort kits" to those in need.

"The Red Cross is making sure that people have shelter, food, and other necessities," said David Garrison, Director of Disaster Services for the American Red Cross. "We will continue to work with the housing authority and other service organizations to ensure that everyone is taken care of."

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