MILLCREEK, Utah – Fire investigators have pinpointed the cause of an apartment fire in Millcreek, but dozens of residents are still waiting to hear when they can go back home.
A fence surrounds the two units damaged by a fast-moving fire Thursday at the Monaco Apartment Complex. Friday, workers boarded up windows and cleared out debris.
Eighty firefighters battled the flames for several hours. Investigators say the fire accidentally ignited on a third floor balcony.
“It was a very chaotic situation,” said Rich Woodruff with the American Red Cross.
Residents grabbed what they could and evacuated.
“Some had to be assisted out,” said Officer John Clark with the Unified Police Department's Millcreek Precinct.
Officers arrived on scene before firefighters and helped families get out safely.
“Animals ran out of their apartment," Clark said. "It was hard to keep them from wanting to go in and make sure they were OK. I feel like what we do, a lot of it is 90 percent routine and this is the 10 percent that's not so much routine.”
The American Red Cross also stepped in.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people may not hold renter's insurance, so they're out, everything they own,” Woodruff said.
Twenty-five families are receiving temporary housing, food, clothing and other necessities from the Red Cross.
“The average expense in these cases could be up to $1,000 per family, by the time you figure hotel, clothing, food, meals,” Woodruff said.
It could be days, or weeks, before people can return home. The Red Cross says it’s a good reminder to get things in order before disaster strikes.
“We want to get people in advance," Woodruff said. "Do you have an evacuation plan? Do you know what you're going to do if you get caught in this type of situation? So, be prepared."
The Red Cross is able to assist people in need thanks to donations and support from volunteers. Last year, they provided 950,000 meals and 910,000 relief items to families in need.