D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - D'Iberville's fire chief is calling Tuesday night's fire one of the largest fires he's worked in years. One entire building at Arbor View Apartments in D'Iberville destroyed. Multiple agencies responded working hours to put out the flames. Red Cross officials said, so far, they know 80 people have been affected by the fire, some losing everything they own.
Within minutes of receiving emergency calls, D'Iberville firefighters responded to the massive fire around 9:30 Tuesday night.
When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out of the building, making it impossible for crews to battle the blaze from the inside.
"There's one building and there's approximately 16 apartments in the building. We know that 12 of them have been affected by the fire. We don't know the extent on the rest of them yet," said D'Iberville Fire Chief Gerald Smith.
Bystanders say they saw the flames from miles away.
"When we were coming, we were watching it, there was like fire tornadoes coming out of the top of it, just spiraling out of the top of it, which was kinda scary to see something like that," said Joe Mouney who was driving on I-110 when he saw the large plume of smoke.
Several agencies assisted in extinguishing the blaze and evacuating residents.
"We blocked the roads, helped with evacuation of the residents and making sure the outer perimeter has been secured," said D'Iberville Police Chief Wayne Payne.
Thousands of gallons of water was used to put out the flames, but it wasn't enough to save building 400, which officials say was a total loss. The fire chief said the residents who lived in that apartment were brought to the D'Iberville cold weather shelter.
Inside the shelter was Sean Harding and his parents who lost everything.
"I walked out of my room and I saw this lingering cloud of smoke in the house, and then I opened the door and there was just a wall of smoke and I immediately thought, we need to get out. So I started screaming, 'Get out! Get out!' And grabbed as much stuff as I could. All I have is my cell phone, my IDs and stuff and I grabbed my laptop."
Henry Mercado said he and his family were evacuated before seeing whether the fire hit their apartment unit.
"Right now, we don't know. They say we have to go out. I don't know. I heard like a car explosion and it was bad, bad, bad," Mercado recalled.
While Arbor View and Red Cross officials worked quickly to find temporary shelter for those displaced, folks like Harding said losing everything just hasn't sunk in yet.
"I don't know, it's just surreal. Everybody was just saying the word, 'surreal.' And that's sorta how it feels, cause you never think it's going to happen to you. You never do, nobody ever does," said Harding.
Emergency responders stayed on the scene throughout the night and into Wednesday. Officials said it's too soon to say the extent of the damage, however, two vehicles were destroyed by the fire. No injuries have been reported.