CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two construction workers are unaccounted for after a large fire broke out at a construction site in Charlotte’s SouthPark area Thursday morning, the Charlotte Fire chief said. Fifteen people, including a crane operator, were rescued as crews battled the five-alarm fire. 

The flames sparked around 9 a.m. at a construction site off Liberty Row Drive near Fairview Road, near SouthPark Mall. A video Charlotte firefighters tweeted just before 10 a.m. shows large flames and heavy smoke.

Firefighters say they are not able to confirm whether anyone died in the fire, as the search process continues.

What You Need To Know

  • Two construction workers are unaccounted for after a large fire broke out at a construction site in Charlotte's SouthPark area Thursday morning 

  • Fifteen people, including a crane operator, were rescued 

  • Firefighters became trapped while rescuing others in the fast-moving fire, and had to be rescued by fellow firefighters

  • Officials asked any families who haven't connected with loved ones at the site to call 911

"With the extensive structural damage, the search process can be lengthy. We cannot confirm a loss of life. This fire has been difficult for our community, and our firefighters continue to diligently work on scene to find answers," Charlotte Fire tweeted

Thursday evening, firefighters were still putting water on hot spots at the site, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police urged commuters to avoid the area.

The fire moved quickly, and firefighters got trapped while trying to rescue others and had to be rescued by fellow firefighters, Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said. 

“The men and women of this department put themselves in harm’s way and actually had to call for assistance themselves to get out of this fire. That’s how fast it was moving,” Johnson said. 

Medical workers took a crane operator to the hospital with minor injuries. Mecklenburg EMS says they evaluated two other people and provided support to firefighters at the scene.

“According to the construction foreman, there are two construction workers that are unaccounted for,” Johnson said in a 1 p.m. briefing. He says over 90 firefighters responded to the fire. 

Officials set up a reunification site for families at the police sky tower near Nordstrom, located at 4400 Sharon Road. They’re asking anyone unable to locate family members who were working at the construction site to call 911. 

Charlotte firefighters say they put out other related spot fires, including at a building across the street, as burning embers spread from the construction site. 

Several roads in the area are closed. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are asking drivers to avoid Liberty Row, Fairview Drive, Assembly Street and Barclay Downs Drive.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said on its website that road closures would affect dozens of bus routes Friday. 

Investigators are working to determine what started the fire.