NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark – An investigation is underway in after an apartment in North Little Rock catches fire, leaving three dead and more than a dozen without homes.
North Little Rock Fire Department and North Little Rock Police responded to the call around 2:30 Tuesday morning. The fire had started in the back part of the complex, impacting 16 units.
“I heard a boom, a loud boom actually,” said apartment resident Raven Dorrough.
Dorrough says she was in her unit at Shortage College Garden Apartments just before the fire broke out. She says she thought she heard someone banging on the wall, but soon realized it was the start of a fire.
“I saw flames coming from the side of the building, I hear people screaming, so my first instinct was to wake everybody in the house up,” said Dorrough.
People who live in the apartments say it was a moment of pure chaos.
“I know my kid’s dad was banging on doors banging on windows, getting everybody out. We were letting them know that the building is about to blow up,” said apartment resident Gabrielle Madison.
North Little Rock Fire Department crews have confirmed three people are dead as a result of the fire. Their names have not yet been released.
“It was actually very emotional, especially when you’re hearing someone scream for help and there’s nothing you can do because you can’t reach them,” said Madison. “I hate that they didn’t get a chance to get out because it was too late.”
Tawana Niles and her husband were at the complex Saturday as a part of their church community event. Niles says when she heard about the news, she knew she had to help.
“It was really mouth-dropping because immediately I’m like, we just saw these families,” said Niles. “You just never know what can happen.”
Niles and her church Rock City Mission helped pass out food to families at the apartment complex Monday afternoon, lending support in any way they could.
“When you are doing God’s work, it comes second nature,” said Niles.
Niles says in the days to come, the community will step up to help pick up the pieces in North Little Rock.
“In the midst of what’s happened, they still have a smile, they still have a smile, they still are very thankful and for them to say God Bless You it’s just very heartfelt,” said Niles.
The American Red Cross is lending a hand to families in need as well. Leaders there say they have opened at least 12 cases to assist individuals and families impacted by the fire.
The City of North Little Rock is also putting up families impacted by the fires in hotels for a few nights as they work to bounce back to normal.
North Little Rock School District says they’re doing their part as well, issuing us this statement:
“The North Little Rock School District has been made aware of a fire that took place as Shorter Gardens. We are saddened by the devastation. Please know that the NLRSD has a variety of resources, including counseling services, that are available for students and families who have been impacted by this event. Families needing assistance can contact the school at (501)340-5170.”