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One dog dead, two cats missing, three families homeless after fire at Gardner apartment complex

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GARDNER, Kan. -- Three families were forced out into the cold Tuesday morning when fire destroyed their Gardner, Kan., apartments.

Residents at the complex near Moonlight and Old 56-Highway tell Fox 4 they woke up to the sounds of popping around 1:45 a.m.

The heat from the fire was so intense, it began breaking windows.

Resident say they saw their kitchens on fire and quickly woke up their families to get them out to safety. Firefighters say 12 people escaped unharmed, while a dog and possibly two cats died in the flames.

"I just woke up, my mom woke me up, and I went to the living room and saw the whole kitchen on fire so I just left," KIlmer Torres said. "I just went outside without a shirt and just my shorts and I brought my little brother with me, he had his blanket on."

Some tried to put out the fire with water but say it got too intense too quickly.

"I brought my pillow with me because I thought it was a small fire, I was like, I'm going to put this out," Torres said. "But nah, the whole kitchen was on fire."

The Red Cross is on the scene to help these families get clothes, food and a place to stay.

The apartment is a total loss, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Firefighters say it started outside in the back between the two buildings.