Imlay City Assistant Chief Rick Horton (right) monitors the firefighting Thursday afternoon at Hickory Square Apartments while firefighters from Attica and Almont prepare more hoses to douse the flames. The residents from eight units were displaced as a result of the fire. photo by Maria Brown.
January 16, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Up to $250,000 in damage, eight displaced families and one injured firefighter—that's the cost of Thursday's fire at Hickory Square Apartments.
But due to the quick thinking of maintenance workers, police and firefighters, no residents were hurt and the building was saved from complete ruin, Fire Chief Kip Reaves said.
While preparing to make repairs, maintenance workers discovered the fire in a wall between two units and attempted to put it out with fire extinguishers.
"Everybody got out safely thanks to the maintenance workers," Reaves said, noting they helped out a man with crutches and a woman in a wheelchair.
The flames spread up to the attic area where firefighters from Imlay City, Attica and Almont took control.
"That's where the firefighters got it stopped," Reaves said, adding that thick smoke was a challenge.
"They did an excellent job. I can't say that enough."
An Imlay City firefighter strained his shoulder while working in the attic and was treated on scene by Lapeer County EMS.
Most the damage is of a structural nature with there being minor water and smoke damage. Reaves said it helped that the 20 year-old apartments were built with some fire resistant materials.
State inspectors surveyed the scene on Monday, but it was too early to determine a cause, Reaves said. The apartment complex also had their own investigator on scene.
While firefighters battled the blaze, Hickory Square employees and volunteers with the American Red Cross sprang into action, securing housing and other necessities for the victims.
"They've been wonderful," leasing specialist Holly Smith said of the Red Cross.
Other apartment residents did their best to lend a hand too.
After learning of the fire, Lauren Haynes took an armful of blankets and a kid-friendly DVD to the offices were the affected residents had gathered.
"There was a lot of adult conversation going on so I thought the kids could use a distraction," she said.
"All (the kids) have (left) is what they took to school."
Smith suggests that donations for the families be forwarded to the Red Cross. The Hispanic Service Center will also collect donations of food, clothes and furniture earmarked for the 'Hickory Square residents.'