Residents escape Columbia apartment fire without injuries - WSMV Channel 4

Residents escape Columbia apartment fire without injuries

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Channel 4 viewer H. Allen Harlan sent in this photo of the apartment fire. Channel 4 viewer H. Allen Harlan sent in this photo of the apartment fire.
Channel 4 viewer Dana Swift sent in this photo from the apartment fire. Channel 4 viewer Dana Swift sent in this photo from the apartment fire.
COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) -

Everyone safely got out of a burning apartment building Wednesday morning in Columbia, thanks to an alert neighbor.

Officials say the fire started about 8:30 a.m. at Graymere Apartments on Union Place, which is off James Campbell Boulevard.

A neighbor walking by the 16-unit building saw the fire and started knocking on doors, including the one nearest to the fire.

"I was sleeping really good, and then I heard banging on my door," said fire victim Amy Johnson. "It was unbelievable. I thought it was a nightmare."

Johnson awoke and got her twin 11-year-old sons out.

"I got my children out as fast as I could," she said. "The attic part was just completely engulfed in flames, and the smoke was just unbearable."

The Columbia Fire Department arrived within minutes, and they, too, were concerned about people being possibly trapped inside.

"We went into full rescue mode to make sure everybody was safe, and make sure the occupant where the fire started was out," said Columbia Fire Chief Lee Bergeron.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to one unit, although a few others were damaged by smoke and water.

The firefighters were even able to rescue Johnson's cat.

Tenants say the smoke alarms didn't sound, however fire officials say that is because the fire was on the outside of the building first before going inside.

No injuries were reported in the fire, but one person was taken to Maury Regional Medical Center just for observation. One firefighter received oxygen after battling the fire, and he is going to be OK.

The American Red Cross is on the scene and will be assisting the displaced families.

"I was scary, because I I've already been through this one time," said neighbor Nicole Johnson.

Two years ago, Nicole Johnson went knocking on doors in the same building after a grease fire started in a neighbor's unit.

"My neighbor decided to get her kids out and not notify anyone else until she screamed and said, 'It's a fire!' I went and pounded on everyone's door and got everyone out that time," she said.

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