Massive fire rips through 18 D'Iberville apartments

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - As many as 18 D'Iberville families lost everything they own, and are now wondering where to go next.  They're now homeless after a massive fire at the Arbor View Apartments on Auto Mall Parkway in D'Iberville.

Firefighters say it's the largest structure fire they have seen in years.

Within minutes of receiving emergency calls, D'Iberville firefighters responded to this massive fire around 9:30 last 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 that we know that 12 of them have been affected by the fire we don't know the extent on the rest of them yet," one D'Iberville fireman explained.

Bystanders say they saw the fire miles away.  "When we were coming 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," a witness told WLOX News.

Several agencies assisted in extinguishing the blaze and evacuating residents.

D'Iberville police blocked the roads, helped with evacuation of the residents and making sure the outer perimeter has been secured. The fire chief says 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.

According to fire chief Gerald Smith, the residents who lived in that apartment were taken to the D'Iberville cold weather shelter.

Sean Harding and his parents lost everything.  "I walked out 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," said Harding, "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."

Henry Mercado says he and his family were evacuated before seeing whether the fire hit his 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 you know it take time to the fire down," Mercado said.

While Red Cross officials worked quickly to find temporary shelter for those displaced, folks like Harding, say losing everything just hasn't sunk in yet.  "I don't know its just surreal," Harding said.  "Everybody was just saying the word surreal and that's sort of how it feels, because you never think its going to happen to you never do nobody ever does."

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