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Residents still recovering after massive apartment fire

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LAWTON, Okla._Two weeks after a fire destroyed a west Lawton apartment building, one Lawton real estate company is helping those who lost their homes put their lives back together.

Johnny Owens ERA began collecting goods to help shortly after flames tore through the apartment building at northwest 63rd and Oak on April 7, forcing people living upstairs to jump or walk through fire to reach safety. All eight of the building's units have been ruled a total loss. Owens says it was their goal to help with the recovery by replacing some of the essential household items lost in the fire.

Two weeks ago, Aletha Cox lost everything, but now she is just happy to be alive and thankful for the outpouring of hope and support from the community.

"It is something that you can't describe," said Cox.

For Cox, the bandages covering the second degree burns on her hands and forehead are constant reminders of a terrifying night that would forever change her life.

"It is like disbelief that this was going on and that this was actually happening," said Cox who is still taking in the horrific scene.

Aletha lived right above the apartment where the fire broke out. In only a matter of minutes she would open her front door to see her only way to safety, the stairs, engulfed in flames.

"I looked back in my apartment and said ‘I can't go back in there. I will burn to death'," said Cox.

She made the split-second decision to walk through the fire and then watched as everything she owned went up in flames. Once she was able to return to her apartment, she quickly realized that she would not be able to salvage so many of her prized possessions.

"Memories, some of the things that my children gave to me. Things that were my mother's," all things that Cox says she lost to the fire.

But Aletha says the community and the power of prayer are giving her hope, helping her piece back together her life and home with a gift card and essential household items. Despite all the tragedy, Aletha says they all have many blessings to count.

"Not a life was lost. We may have some bumps and bruises. But we are alive," said Cox.

There are many other residents like Aletha who still need help rebuilding their lives. If you would like to donate items to the victims, contact Valerie Key, property manager for Johnny Owens Residential, at 580-353-7941.

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