A Rochester apartment complex in the 19th Ward was destroyed by a fire that took nearly all of of the city's fire department to control.
All 12 people living in the property at 440 Thurston Road made it out of the inferno alive. A resident suffered a minor injury and was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also hospitalized for back pain after falling through the second floor.
"We needed 76 firefighters to stop this one, and I'm thankful for every one of them," said Rochester Fire Chief John Schreiber.
Schreiber said the five-alarm fire was spotted by a passerby at 8:22 a.m. Crews arrived to find fire on all three floors. Fire personnel were pulled out of the building 40 minutes later.
Crews began to tear down the scorched building Monday night.
“You’re glad that everybody makes it out safely, you’re glad that everyone is accounted for at this point. You can go hug someone you love at home. It’s unfortunate for the residents of this building, two weeks before Christmas, that this had to happen," said RFD Public Information Officer Amon Hudson.
Hudson said there were 28 apartment units total in the building and only nine were occupied.
"All my property, all my stuff is burned up," said resident Lonnie McDowell. "I don't got nothing except what I got on right now, that's what I'm thinking. Everything is gone."
The American Red Cross is helping with food, clothing and temporary shelter.
"It's always a shock. It's generally the worst day of their lives. In this case, everybody lost everything," said American Red Cross spokesperson Lawrence Halpern.
James Frances and his wife are one of nine families being assisted by the organization. They've lived in the building for 12 years and escaped by going out the window and down the fire escape.
The duo said they recently practiced the drill in case a fire like this should happen.
"It's a sad day right now for me, very sad. I lost everything, everything except my wife," Frances said.
According to city leaders, the building had multiple code violations, but none of those had to do with fire suppression.
KLP Partners, LLC acquired full ownership of Thurston Road Realty, LLC in July after lawsuits were brought against previous owners, Thurston Road Realty.
The building was one of four owned by the company.
In a statement, a spokesperson for KLP Partners said the company was working closely with city officials to make all repairs as required to the Thurston Road properties.
An investigation is underway to determine what sparked the flames.