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Altus Apartment Fire: 16 Units Total Losses

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ALTUS Okla_ An apartment building caught fire in Altus Monday, and now at least 13 families are homeless.

Firefighters believe the fire started in the attic of one of the Apple Creek Apartment buildings. The fire broke out just after noon Monday.  Firefighters say no one was injured, but 16 units were destroyed.

Fortunately, only one of the complex's buildings was damaged. Firefighters from Altus, Altus Air Force Base, Friendship, and Blair responded quickly and had it contained before it could spread. So, some people caught a lucky break, but others lost everything. 

18-year-old Tifany Jones was sitting on her couch when she heard an unusual sound.

"It was a loud popping noise," Jones said. "There was a guy standing out there yelling at me, and I opened the window. My whole patio was in flames."

Jones was in shock, but she reacted quickly. She grabbed her most precious possessions.

"I grabbed my cat, my wallet, and the clothes on my back," Jones said.

Apartment Manager Pamela Keck was in the office when she heard of the fire. She immediately ran outside.

"You could see the flames," Keck said. "We thought it was on the balcony, and then we noticed it was coming through the sides of the boards. Then, we noticed the attic go up and that was it."

She and a few others had everyone out before Altus firefighters arrived just a few minutes later. They knew immediately the fire was too big to handle alone.

"We immediately called in all off duty firefighters, Altus AFB, Friendship Fire Department and Blair Fire Department," Altus Fire Chief Jerry Abbot said.

He said around 50 firemen in all joined in, and the fire wasn't the only problem. Outside temperatures hovered around the century mark during the middle of the day. In fact, firemen had to take shifts.  Firefighters sat under an awning for shade and had plenty of water and fans to try and keep cool.

"We've got one that's getting an IV right now," Abbot said as one of the firefighters had gotten a little too hot Monday.

It's something they're willing to do: risk their own health to put out the fire, save lives, and in this case, the few belongings for the people who've lost so much.

The building was in the process of being re-roofed, but the investigation on the exact cause is ongoing. Officials decided it was structurally unsafe. So, they bulldozed it shortly after the flames were put out.

The Red Cross was on scene to help the displaced families. The apartment complex said they will provide those residents with another vacant apartment.



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