ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dawn Laesser considers the residents at Shire Assisted Living family.  Her daughter serves as administrator there and, when Dawn heard about the fire that forced part of the complex to evacuate, she jumped right in to help.

She started by gathering clothes.

“It was a blessing no lives were lost,” Laesser said. “It gives me chills thinking about it because they’re like family to us.”

Some of those residents are being housed elsewhere in the building.  The Ridge Culver Fire Department says about 160 residents in all were evacuated from the basement, first and second floors.  This type of evacuation can be tricky because this building is what’s considered a high-hazard occupancy, with the people inside needing assistance getting out.

 “A lot of them have difficulty with mobility, they’re wheelchair bound or they have a walker to assist them, so they’re not able to move quickly, they’re not able to necessarily remove themselves easily from the location,” said Chief Steven Sessler of the Ridge Culver Fire Department.

Four residents and a firefighter were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The fire chief says recent updates to the building’s fire alarm and sprinkler systems made a world of difference in getting everyone out safely and quickly.  

“That sprinkler activated properly and was able to contain the fire and keep it at a small state until we could get in there and extinguish it so that’s extremely helpful,” Sessler said.

He also credited the fast action of police, fire and ambulance crews from around the area that answered the call to assist in the evacuation.