Residents Displaced by Apartment Building Fire Describe What They Experienced

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Scary, terrible, horrible and shocking. That's how people who live in the Eddy Apartment Building on Polk Boulevard describe what they experienced today. The residents, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled, said didn't realize how serious the situation was at first.

"I just thought somebody had pulled the fire alarm," said Paul Matt. "You know, it was about 12:30 p.m. and usually the building`s pretty empty by then and I came out, you know," said Matt. "I was like first or second out and it seemed like about ten minutes later I could see the smoke coming out of the corner apartment."

"I thought at first it was a false alarm," said James Hultman. "Then, I went up and got a friend on the floor above me and I told them we need to go because we smell smoke and we end up getting out and he needed the elevator, but we couldn`t, so I helped him down the steps," said Hultman.

When the residents got outside, they saw the smoke and flames coming out of a fourth floor apartment.

"They spread really quick and to the other apartment that my friend, he was in the apartment next to it and he died," said Lucille Dunlap. "They brought him out, he was already dead," said Dunlap.

Photos of that man, who neighbors and friends identify as Henry, were provided to WHO-TV Channel 13 News, courtesy Angela Gerdes - a waitress at Waveland Café.

"He was a good ole guy," said Dunlap. "He was an elderly gentlemen, probably in his 70`s. Didn`t bother nobody. He was real quiet, but when he talked to you, he was really really friendly. He was a real friendly guy. He always went up to the Waveland Café and they all knew him up there. They were real concerned about him," said Dunlap.

Susan Fox lives on the fourth floor and she said her life was saved by her boyfriend. "He come in and told me the building was on fire and I needed to get out of there."

Scared, Fox ran and wasn't able to take her cat "Princess" with her.

"I had no choice, but I left her behind," said Fox.

Dunlap, who lives on the first floor, did manage to take her cat "Cinnamon" with her.

"I thank God I didn`t lose her, because she`s all I got and I don`t know what I`d do without her."

Organizations like the Salvation Army and Red Cross were on scene assisting the residents and helping them find a place to stay tonight. Some will be put up in motels and others will stay with family and friends.