One day after a massive fire destroys a South Bend apartment building, dozens of residents are left without their belongings. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the Park Jefferson Apartment fire.
South Bend Fire Investigators say smoking materials, likely a cigarette, caused the fire. They've ruled it an accidental fire. It started on a second floor balcony and spread. Most residents were left with just the clothes on their back.
After looking at these pictures, residents are feeling a sense of relief that they made it out okay. Many people escaped just before the fire got out of control. "I'm thankful that everybody got out okay, that was my main concern. Right now, it's just a blur trying to figure out what you're going to do next," says Ashley Lawler. Lawler's apartment was completely destroyed in the fire.
In a matter of minutes, flames hit the roof and spread to twenty other apartments. "That's kind of the risk you take by living in an apartment, we knew that could possibly happen coming into it," says Lawler's roommate, Erin Koons.
Fortunately, the two roommates have renter's insurance, but they're still frustrated after loosing everything. "I woke up with an awful pit in my stomach. It's just not a good feeling, you have no clothes, I bought some of the necessities last night," says Koons.
The Red Cross says at least 34 people were displaced by the fire. A team has set up a temporary service center at the Park Jefferson offices, helping people with their immediate needs. "So that they don't need to worry about coming to the store and smelling like the smoke from last night. They can put on something new and go to the store," says Rebekah Go, with the Red Cross.
Although, both Lawler and Koons have renter's insurance, many of the residents say they don't have it. Looking back, some say it would've been a small price to pay considering they lost everything.
Meantime, some displaced residents are staying with family, while others have been temporarily placed at Castle Point Apartments in South Bend.