Fire Destroys Apartment Building

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Six families are homeless Sunday following a devastating blaze in Hastings.

The apartment building at 835 N. Kansas Ave. that they once called home is now unliveable.

The aftermath of the flames evidenced in broken windows, melted siding and charred clothing.

"It's a total loss," Hastings Fire Chief Kent Gilbert said.

For those six families, that means saying goodbye to their homes.

"The floors are soft. Stairways are gone," Gilbert said. "There isn't anything they can do with this house other than tear it down."

All escaped the blaze. One tenant is hospitalized in serious condition.

Gilbert said that man has the responding firefighters to thank for his life.

"Our firefighters, upon their arrival, had to make a decision whether they were going to go for the rescue of this person or wait until their safety was assured, and in this case they went after the victim," he said.

Gilbert said the fire began in a basement, making the firefighters rescue attempts even more dangerous.

"The heat, the smoke was coming up the stairwell they were trying to go down," he said.

That problem worsened as the fire spread upward inside the structure's walls, eventually consuming the entire house.

"It's hard for us to operate safely in that type of house," Gilbert said.

Tenants came back to their apartments today, hoping to recover valuables with the help of the fire department.

They said they are thankful that everyone survived.