Fast moving flames quickly destroyed a 12-unit condominium building on Wednesday morning. The fire at The Woodlands Estates, south of the Missouri 76 strip off Fall Creek Drive, displaced 10 families.
The fire was reported a little after 10 a.m. It was still smoldering at dusk as fire crews went through the rubble with backhoes and other equipment. In the meantime, the 14 people who lived in the building were trying to figure out what's next.
Only a little bit of the building was left standing.
“That was the entry way into our kitchen. That's the only thing that's left, just that little bit of wood,” said Joseph Pokorski. “My home and everything I had is gone; you see it. It's not like there are remnants lying there; there is nothing there.”
Residents had feelings of shock and disbelief as they watched their homes go up in smoke.
“All at once, when we were sniffing and looking to see where it was coming from, we saw the fire coming up, so we just started grabbing our animals and my purse and different stuff, just what we could get real quick, to get out of there,” said Brenda Rebill, who lived on the second floor.
The three-story building is a complete loss. All but two of the 12 units were occupied. Residents like Rebill have to pick up the pieces.
“It's heart breaking not just for us, for everybody, in the whole complex. It's a heart breaking thing for everybody,” she said.
“That's the thing. We sit here and all of us owners are looking at it,” said Pokorski. “You don't know what to do. You don't go home. It's that feeling of, ‘I don't even know where to go right now, what to do.’”
Though it’s just material belongings that are in ashes, residents say it’s still tough.
“Even my wedding ring, after all these years, all my grandchildren’s pictures and everything is gone,” said Rebill.
“I performed in Poland six years ago, and I'm Polish heritage, and I brought back a set of crystal glasses that belonged to my parents. Just to see them was amazing. They sat in my cabinet in my dining room. It's just gone and we just remembered it right now,” said Pokorski.
With the help of family and friends, residents say they are going to get through this, one day at a time.
An investigator is trying to find the cause of the fire.