An apartment building was destroyed in a fire on Saturday (April 12) at the Pomeroy Place Apartments in Centerton, said Mayor Bill Edwards.
Eight fire departments responded to the three-alarm blaze around noon.
Thirty-three people were displaced by the fire on Sadie Lane, but Centerton Fire Chief Delton Bush said no one was injured.
Jason Brooks, who lives in the complex, said he was one of the first to see the smoke and run to help.
“People were coming out. I was trying to get them to the parking lot as far away from the building as possible,” Brooks said.
He said he saw an oxygen sign posted in a window on the first floor near where the fire started.
Brooks said he thought the building was going to explode.
“There was smoke coming out,” Brooks said. “Knowing fire and oxygen do not mix, I thought anybody nearby was going to be injured or killed.”
The fire chief said the blaze started on the northeast corner on the first floor and quickly moved through the second story to the attic.
Brooks said the fire moved so fast that he was unable to go back into the burning building for people’s belongings.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that it’s all you could do was try to get people out,” Brooks said.
The fire was first reported before noon and was mostly extinguished shortly after 1 p.m. No other buildings appeared to have been badly damaged in the fire, the mayor said.
Red Cross workers arrived around 1 p.m. to give aid to displaced families.
“We are making sure they have those immediate needs met,” said Rick Harvey of the Red Cross. “Some of the individuals may have left their homes without even shoes, so we make sure they’re taken care of for the next day or two until they are able to get back on their feet.”
New Life Christian Center opened its doors for the workers and victims to gather and get whatever help they needed.
The mayor opened City Hall on Saturday until 8 p.m. for people to drop off donations for the victims. City Hall was scheduled to be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The fire chief said Saturday evening the cause of the fire is under investigation, but officials were unable to get into the building because it was unstable.