Displaced Apartment Residents in Need of Care; Recall Rescue

Posted at 11:55 AM, Nov 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-20 05:53:14-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich.- More than 100 people had to be evacuated from a seven story apartment building following a fire early Monday morning. It happened at the Northwind Apartment complex, located at 1004 Douglas Avenue, in Kalamazoo County.

Due to the size of the building, and the fact many of those rescued were disabled, numerous fire departments, paramedics, even doctors were called in to help.

“I’d be dead without Monty,” said resident, Kim Ewell, at the thought of having to leave her dog behind. Monty is a rescue dog who Ewell says has helped prevent falls and even a break-in.

“I said I’ll leave but im not leaving him here,” said Ewell. “He’s an extension of me.”

According to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the fire started in a third story apartment unit and quickly spread to the floor above.

Rescue crews faced a number of challenges. Many of the disabled people who lived there needed to be carried down several flights of stairs. And, while fire fighters worked to put out the flames, part of the fourth floor actually collapsed.

“I tried to open the front door and I saw smoke,” said resident, Albertine Ford. “I went to my balcony and I was stuck for a long time. I prayed to the good Lord to send someone over to hear me scream.”

“When they came and got me, the first floor was soaked,” added Ewell. “Then I was told the forth floor collapsed and I thought, ‘this is bad.”

Eventually, crews were able to get the residents out.

The Red Cross is working to help people get back on their feet, and help those residents with special needs get the care and medical attention they require.

“A lot of people with needs, some on dialysis, maintenance medications,” said Jim Heaton, a volunteer with the Red Cross. “Life EMS brought wheelchairs.”

KDPS say seven people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but are expected to be OK.

The building has a lot of smoke and water damage, but investigators are not sure how the fire started.

A building inspector was on scene, Monday, to check out the stability of the rest of the complex.