GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A garage fire broke out at a Gaines Township apartment complex early Thursday morning.
"Imagine just waking up to a fire like that and you can't do anything about it,” says resident Adrien Brownridge. "Felt like I was in the fire myself, just staring at it, like, 'Whoa.' Something different. Made me realize how quick things could turn, you know."
When Adrien went to bed Wednesday night, the last thing he expected was for a fire to explode at 3 a.m.
“If you stood right here, the heat would be too much,” Adrien recalls. “The heat was serious."
The flames surged from the parking garage, fueled by strong winds.
Adrien, his mom, her boyfriend, and his two little sisters got out in minutes. Their whole building at Woodfield Apartments evacuated.
“So we got over there and there were babies crying, moms crying,” says Adrien. “It was just wild."
“You could see the glow; you could see the plume against the night sky from a long ways out,” describes Lt. Brett Holmes with the Dutton Fire Department. “So, we knew coming in that we had a pretty daunting task in front of us."
Holmes says it took a team effort from several agencies to knock down the flames in an hour…but the damage was done.
All 40 garage stalls were scarred, with more than half turning to ash.
At least 13 vehicles are gone and several others destroyed, including the car of Brittany Roland's boyfriend, who was just visiting for the night.
“You know how you put marshmallows on the fire? That's what it looks like on the inside,” says Adrien. “Simple as that."
Finding the cause is not as simple. Holmes says they have no idea how this happened; it's not something they typically deal with. “To have fires in these situations when the weather gets this way, it's not uncommon at all,” he says.
Holmes says it’s “more uncommon” for fires to happen inside a garage.
The good news is no residents or firefighters were hurt.
Adrien's mom and her boyfriend said it's okay that the fire happened, saying they will figure things out after they get hold of a rental car.
But because of spring break, nothing was available, so they have no idea what they're going to do. It’s a sentiment shared by just about everyone impacted by that fire.