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No residents injured in fire at Buchanan apartment complex

BUCHANAN — After battling flames for hours, the Buchanan Fire Department reported that no residents were injured during a fire at a Buchanan apartment complex Monday.

According to Buchanan City Fire Chief Robert Adams, units were called to the West Wind Apartments, located off Front Street in Buchanan, before 11 a.m. Monday. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they were met with visible smoke and flames coming from one building in the complex. As of 1 p.m., the fire was under control but had not yet been extinguished.

“There is pretty extensive damage [to the complex],” Adams said. “We don’t want to lose a building, but the biggest thing is that we don’t want to have any injuries or worse.”

According to Adams, no human residents were injured in the fire. However, as of 1 p.m., a dog living in the complex was unaccounted for, and two residents told Leader Publications their cats were not evacuated from the building.

Currently, the cause of the fire is undetermined.

“We have no idea yet [what caused the fire],” Adams said. “The investigation is coming.”

For the residents of the West Wind Apartments, the fire was a frightening moment that they will not soon forget.

Resident Lauren Polk was inside her home when the fire started and said the experience left her “anxious and scared.”

“I heard a smoke alarm, so I peeked out the door, woke my husband, made sure the kids had coats and shoes, and we ran out,” Polk said. “It was surreal. I knew we needed to get out, but I didn’t think it would result in this. I thought it was maybe a small kitchen fire, not a huge flame.”

Resident Carrie Gibson lives at West Winds with her daughter. While she said her daughter and one of her cats were able to escape the fire, her family could not rescue their second cat before having to evacuate the building.

“It’s devastating,” Gibson said of the fire. “But my daughter is safe, and that is really what matters.”

Despite the tragedy of the fire, some residents said they were touched by the way complex residents came together to help one another and keep each other safe during the fire.

Two such neighbors are Carolyn Macomber and Kelly Norton. When the fire broke out, Macomber was in St. Joseph, while her beloved dog, Mandy, remained inside her apartment. Unbeknownst to Macomber at the time, Norton ensured firefighters rescued Mandy and kept the dog warm and secure until Macomber arrived at the scene.

“Neighbors, they mean the world, and good neighbors mean the world,” Macomber said. “When you go through stuff like this, you need good neighbors.”

Area agencies, including the Red Cross and the Niles Salvation Army, were on scene to aid residents displaced by the fire, while warming stations were set up at nearby churches.

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