The city of New Bern says kids playing with a lighter started a fire that displaced eight families.
The first call to Cooper's Landing on Simmons Street in New Bern came in around 10:10 a.m.
Multiple city fire crews responded, and because of the extreme heat they brought in additional help from county fire departments.
Eight units in that building with 38 people living there.
The victims are all refugees from Burma, and now a group that helps Burmese people is trying to find places for them to stay.
"It's just devastating," said Susan Husson, director of Interfaith Refugee Ministry. "They've already lost everything in their own countries. To come here, to be starting a new life and all of a sudden everything is destroyed again."
Interfaith Refugee Ministry arrived on scene with two interpreters to help the families communicate.
The fire chief says the apartments were built in the early 1970's, before fire codes were enacted that would have prevented the fire through the attic.
The American Red Cross has set up a shelter for fire victims at Faith United Methodist in New Bern. That shelter opens at 7:00 p.m. at the church on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.