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Greenfield apartment complex fire began on 2nd floor and burned despite sprinklers

Greenfield apartment complex fire began on 2nd floor and burned despite sprinklers

By the WTMJ News Team. CREATED Aug 24, 2011

Click on the related video link to see raw Chopper 4 video of fire crews putting out the fire.

GREENFIELD – Investigators in Greenfield searched for the cause of a huge apartment fire that left more than a dozen people homeless.

Authorities say the fire began on a second floor balcony, then spread throughout the building despite the presence of a sprinkler system.

"At least we got out, and nobody got hurt," said one of the fire victims. "We lost everything.  No clothes.  No nothing."

Chopper 4 captured flames shooting out of the roof of the Greenfield Park Apartments, a complex which now includes a burned-out building.

"It went so fast," said Corelle Waldron, who had to rush out of the burning building.

Smoke made parts of the neighborhood around South 88th Street and West Layton Avenue barely visible.
 
Angela Monroe lived in the complex.

“Everything is gone… it’s destroyed,” she told TODAY’S TMJ4.
 
Monroe first noticed smoke just after 3 p.m.  At first she thought her neighbor was grilling.

“Then the smoke started getting blacker, and then I realized he’s not home.”

The fire quickly spread despite the presence of a sprinkler system.

"I didn't really think this place could burn, because it had sprinkler systems," said fire victim William Sorensen.  "There's a sprinkler in every room."

That wasn't enough to stop the fire, according to the Greenfield fire chief.

"The building is sprinklered, but the fire burned between and above the sprinkler system," explained Chief Jon Cohn.
 
“When my husband went out there, the smoke got thicker, and then a wall of fire shot up on the other side of the partition,” Monroe said.
 
She and her husband banged on neighbors doors as they ran out of the burning building.

Crews from several departments battled the blaze. One Greenfield firefighter was treated for heat related stress.
 
Eight apartments in this 24-unit complex sustained heavy damage. It looks like the fire started in the back of the complex. Police say they do not suspect arson.
 
“We do not believe that the fire is criminal in nature or that it was intentionally set,” Greenfield Police Chief Brad Wentlandt told TODAY’S TMJ4.
 
Police say all of the residents were accounted for after the fire.

Fifteen people were displaced and are receiving assistance from the Red Cross, but most of them lost everything.

"All my photo albums, and my mom just passed away, so I have no pictures," said fire victim Sandra Sims.  "Nothing."