Families relocated after fire destroys apartments

Fire crews are working to determine a cause for the fire that destroyed at least eight units at the Sandy Pines apartment complex Thursday.

The American Red Cross is helping families relocate after a fire tore through a building at the Sandy Pines apartment complex in Kalkaska Thursday afternoon.

At least eight units are destroyed, and eight others are damaged, but all the residents were able to get out safely.

Several people ran in to help clear the building.

Dawn Forsyth said a friend in another building beat on her door, yelling, â??Fire!â?? waking her up from a nap.

â??Once I got my bearings, I thought, â??Oh my goodness!â?? We just have to get out of here. So I grabbed my dog and purse and took off,â?? Forsyth recalled.

A fire alarm was pulled at the complex around 1:30 Thursday afternoon.

â??That probably helped by alerting everybody else there was a fire,â?? said Kalkaska Twp. Fire Chief Derek Hogerheide.

Flames engulfed the west end of the building. When fire crews arrived and saw the flames, they called for more help. There were still residents inside the building.

â??When I got to the front door and saw how much fire there was already, I thought, â??Oh my gosh.â?? I was thinking we have people that live here that are handicapped, that are older and can't get around so good. It was frightening.â??

â??Our first job was to get those folks out,â?? said Hogerheide.

â??We went down and made sure, asked a couple police and firemen, did everybody get out?â?? said Dawn Johns, who lives in a neighboring building. â??[It was] scary, very scary.â??

Nobody was injured, but more than a dozen people were taken to Kalkaska Memorial Health Center. They were treated and released.

â??I just thank God that everybody was ok,â?? said Forsyth.

The Red Cross jumped in, helping the residents who are now out of a home. Residents are being put up in an adult foster care facility as well as the Kalkaska Memorial Health Center's long-term care. Two families were put up in a motel.

â??For these people, I feel so sorry for them. They've just lost everything,â?? said Johns.

â??I know there's going to be some people that aren't going to have a place to stay for quite a while,â?? said Forsyth. She was able to go back into her water-logged apartment to grab some essentials.

â??He took me in. I got my medications and something to sleep in tonight. They said maybe two or three days,â?? explained Forsyth.

The fire chief said they have a good idea where the fire started. It's now a matter of finding out why it started and how.

â??The whole thingâ??s probably just going to have to be bulldozed,â?? said Hogerheide.