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Displaced twice in less than three months, residents trying to cope

Posted at 10:46 PM, Oct 26, 2015

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Forced out by fire twice in less than three months, residents of Country Meadows Apartments in Kalamazoo say starting over is the hardest part.

"It is unbelievable, it’s shocking, really," said Ashley Cowling, one of those residents who must start over. "We haven't even lived here for two months in this new unit. I had my nieces over for a slumber party, and we were watching a movie, and I couldn’t believe I heard someone at the door saying there was a fire outside. Not even three months ago, I was dealing with this."

Investigators say the fire started in the back of the complex and spread quickly. Nine people had to be rescued. Two were taken to the hospital with minor injuries; one jumped from the third floor balcony to escape.

The Red Cross is now helping those families. Ashley and her mother are now living with her brother while waiting for the apartment complex to open another unit.

"We did not have renters insurance, so we have quite a mess to figure out," said Cowling. "So, I'm hoping we can get back in there and get some of this stuff."

And with no renters insurance, everything Ashley owned could be gone.

"I'm hoping by then we can grab some stuff out of this (apartment)," said Cowling. If not, then we're starting with square one over there with nothing. We'll make it through."

Investigators have condemned the building and are still trying to pinpoint what started the fire. There's no word on when or if residents will be able to return for what's left of their possessions.