Neighbor alerts residents to intense apartment fire

Dozens escape an intense apartment fire thanks to an alert neighbor.

The fire began on the third floor balcony of the Apple Valley Apartment complex in Independence around 5:00 Saturday night.

Investigators say it all started because a person on the balcony threw a partially lit cigarette into a container.

"They (flames) just starting shooting up, through the roof," said resident Tonda Steele. "I screamed and yelled fire and my husband called 911."

Steele saw the flames and ran to make sure everyone else escaped the fire. By the time fire crews arrived, all the residents had escaped.

"I hit the second floor and started pounding on doors, you know making noise, trying to get people to come out."

Joe Kring says he arrived home to find the apartment in flames, but couldn't find his family. He didn't know everyone had gotten out.

"I panicked. They said I couldn't stand," Kring said. "I don't remember parking my truck, I just remember running."

One couple survived but they lost everything else.

"I feel horrible, I lost everything I had, and my mom died last week and every picture I had of her was in the house," Kim Carr said.

"We lost everything we own, everything, it's terrible. We've got nothing now, nothing," Charlie Kizer said.

No one was hurt during the fire and residents say they're thankful for Tonda Steele and her quick thinking. Six of the 12 units were damaged extensively.

The Red Cross is assisting all of the people displaced by the fire.

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