Suspicious fire damages resource center, 2 other structures in Norwood

Suspicious fire damages resource center, 2 other structures in Norwood
Source: WBRC
Source: WBRC

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham firefighters are investigating a fire that broke out at the Norwood Resource Center around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Firefighters initially responded to a fire at a vacant home in the 1500 block of 27th St. North. While at that address, they noticed a fire at the center across the street.

Officials said the Norwood Resource Center fire started in the back of the structure where the kitchen, bathroom and an additional upstairs office were located.

The extent of damage has not been released. No injuries were reported.

"We are thankful that no lives were lost, but many lives were affected. We do a lot of good in this community," said Norwood Resource Center board member Martha Bozeman.

The resource center is a nonprofit that provides services like a computer lab for Norwood residents, a community garden and free tax help. They also helped provide funds to reopen Norwood Elementary School. At least 25 to 50 people used the facility every day.

Center officials said they will not let this fire defeat them. They also shared a message to the person responsible.

"We will rebuild and we will get back to doing what we're all committed to do, which is helping our neighbors. We're going to come back bigger and stronger, so whomever did this thinking that somehow we are not going to fight back—we are!"

The resource center will continue its operations through satellite offices until the rebuilding process is complete, which could take close to a year.

A Birmingham battalion chief said the fire at the resource center wasn't the only one called in Tuesday night. The first one happened around 9:30 p.m. at 1101 25th Street North. The building has been vacant for years and at this point investigators don't know how the fire started.

Less than three hours later firefighters were called to a vacant home in the 1500 block of 27th Street North. Ten to 15 minutes into putting out the fire, crews noticed smoke coming from the resource center. A fire captain said arson may the cause of the 27th Street North and 15th Avenue North fires. All three buildings are within a mile of one another.

"It's kind of surreal. Like a nightmare and we're not really here," said Anderson.

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