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16 apartment units in Huntsville forced to evacuate following Sunday morning fire

Huntsville Fire and Rescue say 16 units were displaced.

Posted: Dec 1, 2019 12:18 PM
Updated: Dec 1, 2019 8:08 PM

UPDATE: Parts of Huntsville apartment building is now completely gone after a fire. 

The fire caused the roof in the middle of the building to collapse this morning. Firefighters then had to tear down the middle portion of the building to fight the flames.

Huntsville Fire and Rescue said eight of the 16 departments that are displaced by the fire were damaged by smoke. Four of them were destroyed by the flames. Huntsville Fire and Rescue said eight of the 16 departments that are displaced by the fire were damaged by smoke. Four of them were destroyed by the flames.

4 units were destroyed. Another 8 were damaged by smoke. Huntsville Fire and Rescue say 16 units will be displaced because of the main power line was damaged by a fire. Power is not expected in the building for weeks and maybe months.

This all happened at the Sunlake at Edgewater complex off Lakefront Drive. Crews responded to the scene at around 10 a.m., and were there until around 4:15 p.m.

Huntsville Fire and Rescue says it will take several days to figure out what caused this fire, but people who lived in the building say they were just shocked it happened in the first place.

"You don't expect things like this to happen," Michele Wells said.

She was laying in bed at home when the fire broke out.

"All of a sudden, I heard somebody banging at my door. I opened the door. It was a fireman. He told me to get out. 'Get out!'" Wells said.

She and her family were able to get out safely. From the outside, Wells along with others who lived in the building, watched in awe as their home burned.

Neighbors checked on each other making sure they were okay.

"I got a call from my neighbor freaking out," Hunter Balthazor said.

He was at church when the fire broke out, but he wasn't prepared for what he saw when he got home.

"I can see straight through my apartment right now. I see the other side straight to the tree in the back so it's completely destroyed. It's crazy. You see it on the news a lot, but when you see it happen it's different," Balthazor said.

Still, he along with Wells are focusing on the positive.

"It's just stuff, you know. Just move on. We come into this world with nothing. We'll leave with nothing," Balthazor said.

"Thank God we are alive. We have our health, our safety, and I'm just fine," Wells said.

Huntsville Fire and Rescue says the wind proved to be a challenge for firefighters battling this fire.

"Wind is like water. It will go through small crevices and small cracks. When you got a small fire or an amber is burning somewhere deep inside that building, the more wind the more it's going to breathe. The more it's going to breathe that fire," Captain Frank McKenzie said.

Captain McKenzie says the wind could cause debris inside the destroyed building to fall and possibly injure their firefighters.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the fire. The Red Cross is helping those displaced.

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Huntsville firefighters are battling an apartment fire that has destroyed at least four apartment units and damaged at least eight others.

Crews arrived at the Sunlake at Edgewater complex in the 600 block of Lakefront Drive SW around 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

Huntsville Fire and Rescue said so far there are no injuries as a result of the fire. They said the residents of 16 units as would be displaced as of 11:30 a.m. due to damage to the utilities.

Of those, eight units were damaged by smoke. 

The Red Cross is on scene and will assist those who are displaced by the fire, which as of noon was still burning. 

WAAY 31 has a reporter at the scene and this story will be updated with the latest information.

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