Iowa State Students Share Experiences from Ames Apartment Fire

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AMES, Iowa -- Some Iowa State students woke up to a smoke and fire filled apartment around 4 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters rushed to 301 South Fourth Street to find about half a dozen people trapped on the third floor.

"The alarm was going off and to me, I didn't think anything of it," said Mariah Scheunemann.

But this was no false alarm.

As smoke and flames filled the Oak Ridge Apartments, most people inside made a mad dash for safety.

"I had to run through hallways filled with smoke," said Ryan Lovan. "I get outside and look back and see the entire roof is on fire and it's going fast. It's spreading really fast."

The fire spread so fast some of his neighbors on the third floor became trapped.

"We saw people who were stuck on their balconies who had to get a ladder," said Scheunemann.

Ames firefighters used ground ladders to rescue six people as the gathering crowd watched the fire burn through the roof of the building.

"It does not look like the building is salvageable," said Susan Gwiasda, City of Ames. "We are putting out the hot spots. They will be here all day. They will be investigating the cause of the fire."

Crews cleared the apartments, giving the all clear that no one was left inside.

"There are 33 units in this building and 32 of them were occupied at the time," said Gwiasda.

It took some time to account for all 75 residents -- most of whom are Iowa State students.

"A lot of us probably have lost everything so we'll just have to try to kind of rebuild our lives, I guess, and keep going," said Lovan.

Despite their losses, there was genuine relief that no lives were lost in the fire.

The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and other agencies are working to help the people displaced by the fire.

Iowa State has also stepped in to provide temporary housing for those in need.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.