Victims of Smithville apartment fire cope with loss

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SMITHVILLE, Mo. -- Smithville fire crews beat back an early morning fire Tuesday but not before it left at least 14 people homeless.

It happened at the Hillside Estates in the 500 block of 169 highway.

Fire crews say around 3:30 a.m. they got a call about the apartment complex going up in flames. They say it started because of grease fire.

"It was really fast moving, somebody screamed 'Call 911 get outside!' Outside the front door we saw the flames, they were above the staircase yet I ran to go get my daughter to come back out the front way and by the time I got back there to the front door the flames were already at the front door so we had to turn around and go out her bedroom window," said  Karen Littleton.

She said she knew the flames would only getting bigger, and that they needed to get out fast.

"Had to tie blankets around my daughter and we pushed her backwards into the cops arms and try to do same with me but I was in a really big hurry to get out so I just jumped out the window," she said.

"I couldn't believe that people were still coming out. Those flames were to the top of the trees, you can see the trees and they were still coming out it was quick,"  said Leslie Henry, who lives on the other side of the parking lot and saw her neighbors homes burning.

"They were clear above the trees I couldn't believe it, with anybody out of there, anybody out there. I was bawling. I thought I was watching a lady burn to death," said Henry.

Deputy Chief Dave Cline says they rescued multiple people from the building, and now at least 14 people are displaced by fire.

"One of the contributing factors is the building is not sprinklered," added Cline. "Everyone evacuated, left the door open, the fire spread into the breezeway and then through the attic of the building."

"Total devastation," Littleton said. "I don't know what me and my daughter are going to do. It's just her and I. I was starting a new life here and now it's all taken away. I don't know where to begin because I had nothing when I moved out here and now I have nothing now."

Two people were transported to the hospital; both with smoke inhalation, and one with burns to the hands and feet.

The Fire Chief says the building will have to be torn down. Some of the victims say the Red Cross has set them up in a motel for three days, along with money for clothing and food. Many of them say they are unsure what they're going to do after that.