Transitional housing residents unsure of next move in aftermath of Liberty fire

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LIBERTY, Mo. -- An early morning fire on Monday pushed a number of families out of their homes at a Liberty  transitional housing complex on Gallatin Street.

Run by a ministry, the complex helps families go from being homeless to having a place of their own, but now the people who were living there aren`t sure where they`re going.

"I was asleep, and I heard someone yelling my name, and I woke up, and noticed that there was smoke coming into my door," said Sonya Gray, who has lived in the housing complex since August.

Around 8 a.m., she awoke to thick black smoke filling her room.

"I poured water on a blanket that I had, and put it over me, and covered my mouth, and just ran out," added Gray.

"I was sleeping, upstairs in my room, which happens to be the wall right next to where the fire was, someone knocked on my door very loudly and said we needed to evacuate the room immediately because there was a fire next door," said Liz Waikler, who lived there with her four-year-old son.

"Brought my son outside, and there was smoke billowing from the window," Waikler said.

Firefighters believe it was an electrical fire that started in an unoccupied room upstairs, and fortunately, everyone made it out safely.

"When we we`re going through everything, we did notice that there were two smoke detectors that were in there, however, they were not operating," said Dustin Paddack, the assistant chief with the Liberty Fire Department.

These townhouses are run by a ministry -- Liberty Disaster Relief.

"About 10 years ago, we knew that there was no homeless shelter in the Northland, and there was really no place people could go that needed to get off the street for a night," said the director, Doug Perry.

Perry says they rent these townhouses for the growing number of people in need.

"To kind of catch the people that fall through the cracks of other ministries," Perry added.

The people living there already face hardships, and now face another challenge.

"Everything that I had was given to me, I came here with just a backpack and the clothes on my back... and now that`s gone," said Gray.

The American Red Cross is working now with the two-dozen adults and kids until they figure out what`s next.

The electricity of the surrounding townhomes has been temporarily shut off for safety reasons, and those tenants can move back in over the next few days. But it could be months before the people in the unit that caught fire can return.