Apartment fire displaces several families


Jonathan and Kayla Young look over at the remains of their apartment where they have lost everything due to an early-morning fire Monday. The blaze broke out at the Greenfield Crossing apartment complex, where four units were destroyed and eight families were displaced.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — Sasha Walters and her husband and son were sound asleep when the boy woke up to the sound of people screaming and jumping from the apartment above them.

“My son, he came running in our bedroom and yelled, ‘Mom, dad, fire,’” Walters said. “We woke up and saw our front bush by the window was on fire and we ran outside and saw that the whole upstairs was on fire.”

Several families lost everything inside their apartments located at 2071 Crossing Court following a two-alarm fire early Monday morning. The fire destroyed four units and damaged four others in the 16-unit dwelling located at the Greenfield Crossing Apartments, 2011 NE Bay Dr., Greenfield.

Officials with the Greenfield Fire Territory say no one was injured, but three people, who were in the apartment of origin, were taken to Hancock Regional Hospital for smoke inhalation and to be checked out.

Eight different families were displaced due to the fire which officials say broke out in an upstairs unit around 12:54 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17. Several units were already ablaze when fire officials arrived, GFT Chief Brian Lott said.

(Video provided by Molly Farnsley)

A firewall, protecting one of the eight units from the other eight units worked, officials said, preventing the fire from spreading worse than it did.

“Once the fire got up in the attic, it ran the whole top area,” Lott said. “It was pretty much going when we arrived and the wind did not help.”

When officials got to the scene, the first thing they did was start banging and kicking on doors to make sure everyone was out and accounted for. Fire officials checked out all eight units directly affected by the fire while law enforcement evacuated people from the adjoining eight units.

“It was a defensive attack from the start because it was already through the roof when we got there and we started getting a second-floor collapse into the first floor already,” Lott said.

Jonathan and Kayla Young were home working on a project for their cinematography business early Monday morning when they started hearing a commotion outside.

When Young looked out of their lower-level apartment, he saw the fire and immediately knew he had to get his wife, four kids and dog out of their apartment.

“I yelled to my wife, ‘We’ve got to get out, get out now, there is no time,’” he said.

They were back at the complex Monday morning looking at the aftermath and noted thanks to the wind, their apartment didn’t burn down. However, after looking over everything, he feels certain they lost all their possessions, including $30,000 in video equipment to smoke and fire damage.

“As a cinematographer, I tried to go back in there last night and get some of my equipment and maybe some of my kids’ things, but once I got back inside the air was not right so I had to get out of there,” Young said. “Our part of the building has now been condemned and we fear we have lost everything we own.”

GFT Fire Marshal Steve Kropacek told the Daily Reporter these types of larger fires can take some time to investigate.

“I’ll be investigating it and we don’t know what caused it at this time, but we know it will be a lengthy investigation because of all the units we have to go through,” Kropacek said.

Kropacek did however note that fire officials from GFT really did a good job and got a “great stop” on the fire which could have been much worse had crews not gotten after it aggressively.

Firefighters from throughout the county and others from the Lawrence Fire Department worked for several hours to knock down the fire and get the situation under control. The fire was officially closed out around 6:40 a.m. Monday.

Officials with the Red Cross were called to the scene and officials with a nearby church, Park Chapel Christian Church, provided shelter for the fire victims who needed assistance.

“They were there for those people affected and provided a place for them to sleep and stay until they could collect their thoughts,” Kropacek said. “We are thankful for the assistance and organizations we have for people in need in this community.”

Friends and family of those affected by the fire took to social media sharing news of the blaze. Chelsie Thomas wrote that her sister Sasha Walters’ apartment and everything inside was destroyed. She noted her sister, her brother-in-law and her 10-year-old nephew and 14-year-old niece now had nothing and were seeking basic clothing and shoe donations from anyone willing to help.

Walters said they could use women’s size 16 leggings and tops, male size large pants and shirts, 10-year-old boy and 14-year-old-girl clothing items.

“The saddest thing is we lost so many baby pictures and keepsakes,” Walters said.

Other friends posted officials with the Greenfield apartment complex were collecting items being dropped off at their office for the families affected. Anything for specific families should be earmarked.