Des Moines firefighters had to rescue people from an apartment building Thursday when a fire broke out in the basement.
Crews were called to 1519 Grand Avenue around 11:30 a.m. Officials say the fire began near the elevator shaft in the basement. Because the fire was in the elevator shaft smoke was able to spread to all four floors of the building.
Firefighters quickly checked each room of the 80-unit building to carry out the residents trapped inside.
“There was a gentleman with a cut on his head, lots of confusion, disorientation,” says resident Alex Roth.
Alex Roth and his girlfriend Rebecca Watson were on the 2nd floor when they heard the fire alarms sounding.
“I tried to go out the fire escape door and smoke was pouring in through there so we went out the main entrance and saw everybody coming out,” says Roth.
Medics took five people the hospital and treated about a dozen on the scene for smoke related injuries.
Many of the people who live here are elderly or disabled.
Firefighters kicked in doors to help those who couldn’t get out on their own.
“We have varying levels of fitness and health here so we had a lot of people trapped on multiple floors,” says Brian O’Keefe from the Des Moines Fire Department.
The Red Cross is helping out displaced residents and DART is bringing in air conditioned buses to keep residents cool. Fire officials say it could be a few hours before a determination on whether it is safe for residents to go back into the building is made.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.