The fire started on the 4th floor of the building at 3905 Tower Drive around 1:30 p.m., police said.
The blaze sent five people, including a firefighter, to hospital, most of them suffering from smoke inhalation. No one suffered any life-threatening injuries, including a man who fell from a balcony while trying to escape.
As smoke billowed from the 4th floor unit, firefighters set up a ladder truck on the other side of the building and helped residents escape. Before firefighters arrived, a passer-by got video of the blaze on his cell phone and a man trapped on the balcony of the unit where the blaze started.
Eventually, the man tried to get off the balcony to safety, but lost his grip and fell three stories to the ground.
Johnny Barrett slept in the unit just below where the fire started. He said when the smoke started to creep in, he finally woke up knocking on the door but never heard a smoke detector.
“It’s pretty scary,” he said. “I could have died in my sleep from the smoke alone.”
As flames and smoke rose through the building, firefighters evacuated all floors. Many units have suffered smoke and water damage and it will be some time before residents can return.
Meanwhile, many evacuees were waiting in the parking lot, hoping to return there to collect some belongings. Most are grateful that no one was killed, but are still shaken by the experience.
“I was confused because I never heard a fire alarm telling me something was going on,” said resident Leonie Nche.
The state fire marshal is investigating the fire. At this point, they have not determined how the fire started.
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