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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Tenants displaced: Shawnee residents escape fire in apartment building

  • Residents bundled up in coats or wrapped up in blankets stood outside in frigid 19-degree weather Monday evening and watched as a fire devastated their apartment building at 622 N. Park.
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  • Residents bundled up in coats or wrapped up in blankets stood outside in frigid 19-degree weather Monday evening and watched as a fire devastated their apartment building at 622 N. Park.
    For one resident, though, thoughts of despair about losing everything turned to worry about her cat still inside the structure. But those feelings eventually turned into a moment of joyful tears as her cat, Booger, was pulled safely from the burning structure and placed in her arms.
    Cuddling the cat in her blanket, she sobbed; she said the loyal cat never leaves her side.
    The woman said she and her fiancé were sitting on the couch in their upstairs apartment when it began to fill up with smoke from downstairs.
    She said they ran down the stairs and knocked on doors to alert other residents, while her fiancé said he helped another neighbor get out of his second-floor unit.
    Luckily, everyone inside made it out safely.
    "It feels good to know we all made it out…God is good," the man said at the scene.
    The fire originated in a downstairs unit, according to fire crews.
    Shawnee's communications center got the 911 call about the blaze and fire crews from all stations responded to the scene. Initial reports indicated someone was possibly still trapped inside, while another person was reported to be on the roof of the two-story structure but made it down safely on his own.
    Shawnee Fire Department Battalion Chief Andy Starkey said when fire crews arrived, they assisted the person helping someone down a ladder from a second-floor unit but everyone else had made it out safely.
    Starkey said cause of the blaze was undetermined so fire marshals will investigate the scene.
    He also called the American Red Cross out to the scene to assist all the residents who lived in the building. Reports indicated there were possibly seven occupied apartment units. Starkey said some units were destroyed by fire while others had smoke and water damage.
    "Everybody is displaced," Starkey said, adding the Red Cross was getting the residents motel rooms.
    The frigid temperatures didn't cause any major problems for fire crews. REACT EMS paramedics were on standby at the scene, with paramedics providing blankets and warm ambulances for residents.

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