D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - D'Iberville firefighters were still battling stubborn hotspots nine hours after the first call came in. Those long hours of hot, hard work can take a toll. Exhaustion sets in. Emergency workers get a quick snack to restore some energy, and then it's back to work.
This was not your normal fire. Gerald Smith is the Fire Chief in D'Iberville.
"It was very difficult. We're talking about an all wood frame structure, and when we first arrived with crews that made it on scene, the fire was actually coming through the roof and it progressed from early stages and it was very difficult. It took a lot of work and a lot of water," Smith explained.
Finding what started the fire will be difficult as well, according to Captain Clay Jones with the D'Iberville Police Department.
"Well, the fire department is going to lead the investigation along with the state fire marshal's office. The area is going to be cordoned off for the next few days I would imagine while they sift through this and find the cause," Jones said.
When firefighters arrive at a multi-story unit like the Arbor View Apartments, buildings that are connected to each other, they realize the fire has the potential to spread very quickly, and safety is the number one priority Smith said.
"You want to conduct a search, search for any victims, make sure all the apartments are empty and at the same time you're trying to set up for fire operations," said Smith.
During that operation, people living in the apartments had to be taken care of, according to Jones.
"We moved everyone to the cold weather shelter and we started accountability there. We have some people at hotels this morning that we're going to have to go by and double check to make sure everyone is safe," said Jones.
Smith added that firefighters are used to this intense work, but only to a point.
"We train and train and train on fires like this and other fires, but until you actually have one, all the training in the world can only help you out," Smith explained. "It can't actually prepare you 100 percent for what you're going to be dealing with because every fire is different."
The cause of the fire and exactly where it started are unknown right now. Officials from the state fire marshal's office, the ATF, and fire investigators from D'Iberville will spend the next few days trying to figure that out.