200 Homeless After Large Indiana Apartment Fire

MARION, Ind. --

A large apartment fire in Grant County early Tuesday morning left at least 200 people without homes.

Marion firefighters were still working on hot spots at the Washington Apartments, an old schoolhouse on East Bradford Street.

Officials said the fire broke out at around 2 a.m. As residents escaped the fast-moving fire, hundreds had to leave everything they owned behind, 6News' Ericka Flye reported.

"Where my niece lived, it's gone. I guess her floor went into the people's downstairs. That's how bad the fire was," Donna Cassidy said.

A woman who didn't want to be identified said she was happy to have made it out of the fire alive.

"All you could see was smoke. You couldn't see the halls, you couldn't tell where anything was. I mean it was thick smoke. We were choking on the smoke, but we made it out alright," the woman said.

Many of the 200 burned out families were put up at a nearby hotel. As children enjoyed pizza , their their parents tried to figure out how they would be rebuilding their lives.

"I've lost everything. As far as I know, there's not going to be anything salvageable," Catrina Black said.

Marion Fire Chief Steve Gorrell said an hour after firefighters arrived on the scene, the fire began to spread through the ceiling.

"They tried to contain it the best that they could but it's tough. An old structure like that has a lot of false ceilings that were closed off," Gorrell said.

Apartment owner Eddie Blinn said his tenants were devastated.

"Some of (the tenants) have been there 8, 9, 10 years. They're friends of mine. I've know them for years. I'm trying to help them out all i can," Blinn said.

Officials said a mother and her children had to be rescued from the apartments. The family was treated for minor smoke inhalation.

No other injuries were reported.

The St. Martin Community Center accepted donations of food, clothing and personal hygiene products on behalf of the victims.

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