Polk County Emergency Management, Other Agencies Assist Residents Displaced by Apartment Fire

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- More than 40 people were evacuated during a fire at a Des Moines apartment building Wednesday morning and it's not the first time some of them had to leave their homes due to a fire at that complex.

Fire officials said the fire broke around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday morning at the apartments at 3720 MLK Parkway. It's the same complex that had a fire in March.

Fire officials said older apartment complexes like this are a firefighter's worst nightmare.

“The legacy apartment buildings, they have no sprinkler systems. So yeah it's frightening. In both of these incidents in the last year, have been fully occupied buildings in the middle of the night, in an unsprinklered apartment building. So that's kind of your nightmare scenario as a firefighter,” Des Moines Fire Lieutenant Chris Clement said.

Fire crews said they found a fire in the mechanical room and it spread from there.

Polk County Emergency Management said they were called out to the scene right away to assist more than 40 residents. They brought in a DART bus to keep residents warm. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Animal Rescue League also responded to assist residents.

Emergency management officials said several of the people that were affected by a fire in the other building of the complex in March, were actually moved into the building that caught fire Wednesday morning, so they're going through the experience all over again.

“They're going through a terrible situation and there’s just a lot of people that are trying to make them comfortable, safe, provide them with the services they need to try to get through this to get back on their feet to try and continue on with their lives,” Polk County Emergency Management Director A.J. Mumm said.

Agencies are still working with individual residents to find them a more permanent place to stay.

Fire officials said the building will be uninhabitable for months and they're still searching for the exact cause.

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