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Pleasant Hill First Responders Organizing Donation Drive for Apartment Fire Victims

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa  --  Flames destroyed a Pleasant Hill apartment building last week, and now a donation drive is being organized to help displaced victims.

The Canterbury Apartments located in the 600 block of Sherrylynn Boulevard caught fire last Saturday afternoon, and all 24 units in the building were evacuated. Investigators say the fire started between the second and third floors and directly involved five units.

"When we got there there was a ton of black smoke. People were still in the apartments. They didn’t realize there was actually a fire in the apartment complex. So we ended up going through knocking on all of the doors making sure everyone got out," Firefighter Jenica Hehir said.

Two people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

The Pleasant Hill Police Department and Fire Department plan to host a donation drive to collect items for the people who lost most or all of their belongings in the fire. New and gently-used clothing, non-perishable food items, toys, and gift cards to purchase groceries will be accepted from Sunday, March 25th through Sunday, April 8th.

"Multiple families had to be evacuated and they lost everything including their clothes, their food, some people lost pets, memories. And so today and for the next two weeks we are going to be accepting donations to help them get come of those items back,"  Chelsea Borich with the Pleasant Hill Police Department said.

One Pleasant Hill resident said this drive came up at the right time.

"I always want to help my community. It was kind of funny because I had these boxes of clothes ready to be taken somewhere for a long time and I would keep putting it off and putting it off and this morning when I saw it on the news I kind of felt like god told me to wait and bring it today because there’d be local families in need," Pleasant Hill Resident Kerri Schwemm said.

The drive will be held at the Pleasant Hill Police Department located at 5151 Maple Drive starting at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Officers, some apartment residents, and the apartment manager will be in attendance and will be available to answer questions during the event.

The apartment complex was built in 1977, at which time sprinkler systems were not required in all living spaces.