According to CBS2’s Kevin Rincon, investigators said the building was a total loss and there are concerns what remains may collapse.
The fire at the Bristol Station apartment complex started around 2pm
Fire crews from neighboring towns were on the scene throughout the afternoon to help control the rapidly spreading blaze.
DJ Akinyemi, a neighbor, said: “She looked out the window and noticed there was a lot of noise and she saw the whole building on fire.”
“It starts in the middle and then the back and then it goes down,” said another.
Neighbors saw flames bursting from a second-floor balcony.
Neighbor Doug Reed said: “It was like fire right here, and then a gust of wind blew and it broke out.
Samuel Odigi said: “Before we knew it, the fire reached the last floor and then started to spread.
“I feel for these people, the tenants. Angela Chandler said.
See Kevin Rincon’s report –
The building has 48 apartments and 75 tenants.
“I stepped onto the balcony to water the plants, and I smelled, like burning rubber,” resident Mandeep Singh told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
Singh said it took at least five minutes for the alarm to go off.
“And when I walked into my apartment to get the kids out, that’s when the fire alarm started going off. And I knocked on my neighbor’s door [doors] and a few other guys, and I just walked out right away,” he said.
By the time the fire brigade arrived, the fire had reached the attic and had spread the length of the building.
“These particular buildings, in the era in which they were built, had no loft. All apartments are spread. All corridors are paved, but not attic. The fire went up there and it moved unhindered,” said Fire Chief Mark Hruska.
Neighbors could only watch as crews tackle the remaining hotspots.
“They can take it out four or five times and it just keeps coming back,” says Reed.
“It’s a lot of smoke. It is just black. It was crazy,” said Bri Smith.
What is not burned by fire can be damaged or destroyed by smoke and water.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army came to support 48 families, about 75 people, who had to be displaced.
For many of them, the reality is still unfolding.
“That I lost everything in minutes. You know, everything I worked hard for and it’s gone,” said resident Michelle Westervelt.
All residents were counted, but some said they had pets inside.
They said firefighters would not let them inside to search for pets or personal belongings due to concerns that the building could collapse.
“That I have nowhere else to live. Resident Jamie Tanner said my animals died, and I had to take care of my wife, who had to go through this.
“I have what I’m wearing, and that’s it,” Singh said.
Firefighters are still looking for the cause of the fire. Officials at the scene said the building could be demolished as early as Saturday morning.
Two firefighters were exhausted battling the blaze, but no other injuries were reported.
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon and Nick Caloway contributed to this report.