Fire Destroys Apartments and Displaces College Students

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Several University of North Alabama students are without a place to stay this evening after a morning fire at their apartment complex.

And it’s the quick action of a couple of neighbors that may have saved the rest of the residents.

As UNA senior Cara Depew sits in her car comforting her cat Thursday morning, fire fighters finish extinguishing a fire that damaged much of her apartment building.

Depew thought it was a little unusual when someone started ringing her doorbell just after seven a-m.

“I kind of ignored it because nobody ever rings my doorbell that early,” explained Depew. “Then he came in and knocked inside, and his eyes were red and he was rubbing them when he said there’s a fire downstairs in the basement apartment and so I ran outside.”

Depew says she grabbed her cat and ran for safety.

Once outside, Depew called 9-1-1 and says within minutes fire fighters were at the apartments located on Poplar Street, working to put the fire out.

“It was a ton of smoke; the whole intersection was filled with smoke. My apartment was filled with smoke, the guys next to me and it was just billowing out of the basement,” said Cara Depew.

Fire inspectors believe the fire started in a basement apartment and spread to the main floor.

Six apartments received damage; two of them were destroyed by the fire.

Despite not having a place to stay, Depew says she is thankful for her neighbors alerting everyone to the fire and no one got injured.

Florence fire inspectors continue to comb through the debris to determine the exact cause.

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