GREENFIELD -- Five people had to be rescued from balconies, and residents from a 40-unit apartment complex were being assisted by the American Red Cross after a fire Monday morning, February 13th.
It happened at an apartment complex near 100th and Oklahoma around 6:30 a.m.
"We could see flames inside one of the apartments, and then all of the trucks started coming -- the fire trucks and the ambulances," Angie Pollak said.
When crews arrived on scene, they not only found fire and smoke -- but occupants trapped on their balconies. Five people had to be rescued from a second-story apartment.
"They were just trying to get out quickly," Lt. Brian Krueger with the Greenfield Fire Department said.
Fire crews entered the front of the building for a safe and effective fire attack, while other crews used ladders to rescue occupants in the rear of the structure.
"This building in particular is actually divided into three individual units. There are fire walls in between, so if the smoke didn`t actually reach their unit, the (smoke) alarms won`t activate. The initial fire crews did an amazing job of stopping that fire spread and containing it to the one unit. Obviously, there was some damage to the other units just based on smoke and overhaul operations," Lt. Krueger said.
Eight units suffered extensive fire, smoke and water damage. Four units had some light to moderate damage and 28 units had little to no damage.
"I believe we got everybody and every pet out safely," Lt. Krueger said.
The entire complex was closed Monday night -- leaving 40 families without a place to call home for the night.
Red Cross officials set up the shelter at Zion United Church of Christ at 76th and Ohio.
"It is a pretty large scale operation for our day-to-day here at the Red Cross. Normally we`re dealing with more single-family fires and smaller apartment complexes and this is one of the larger ones. It may be the worst day of somebody`s life and we`re giving them a place to stay, but more importantly, we`re that shoulder to lean on. We`re here to provide that little bit of hope," Christopher Bach with the Red Cross said.
Volunteers spent hours setting up and waiting for clients to arrive. Sometimes, their services aren't needed.
"Could be a very good thing if people don`t come through the door. It means they have found shelter and the basic necessities that they need elsewhere. It could happen to anyone, and this is the very least that we can do -- to reach out and provide that neighborly support," Stephanie Burton with the Red Cross said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.