Residents displaced as LFR continues investigation into fire at condemned building

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - UPDATE:

Lincoln Fire & Rescue responds to a fire at 2201 Cotner Blvd. on Friday October 4, 2019. Crews moved to a defensive approach and just before 10:00 p.m. the roof collapsed. (Source: 10/11 NOW)

A Lincoln woman is counting down the days until she's homeless.

"We don't know what we're going to do," Theresa Exum said.

Exum is living in a hotel room after her apartment at North Cotner Boulevard and Garland caught fire Friday evening.

She said she was already in the process of moving out, as the building had just been deemed unsafe to live, when the fire started.

"A man comes running down sidewalk saying get out everybody get out, but he's screaming," Exum said. "I looked up and saw black smoke coming out of windows. I had never been through anything like that. It was scary."

Exum said she ran back in the apartment and rescued her cats, but wasn't able to get any belongings. Now she's left with almost nothing.

"Nothing caught on fire but it's the damage from all the water," Exum said. "Water was pouring out of my apartment. I don't exactly know how much stuff I have left, but I know it's not much. We lost our beds, most of our clothes."

Exum said she's grateful to have gotten out alive with her pets, but now she wants to know what caused the fire, that happened right after the last residents were supposed to leave the property.

The Chief Housing Inspector for the City of Lincoln told 1011 NOW the property had been "red-tagged" earlier in the day Friday for problems with the water heater and furnace leaking carbon monoxide.

Exum said she'd been living without hot water for more than a week.

Fire investigators said they haven't been able to determine a cause of the fire because it's too dangerous to go inside after the roof collapsed.

They'll need to bring in heavy machinery, which could take a while.

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Lincoln Fire & Rescue is continuing its investigation into a two-alarm fire at a condemned building on Friday night.

According to LFR, crews were called to the fire a 2201 N. Cotner Blvd. around 7:15 p.m. on Friday.

Crews reported smoke and fire coming from the first floor of the structure.

The building, which holds businesses and apartments, had been red-tagged the day of the fire, LFR said, and during the fire the roof was declared unstable so crews could not investigate.

LFR crews said on the scene there was a call of a wood-burning stove on inside one of the apartments, but the cause of the blaze is still unknown.

The Chief Housing Inspector for the City of Lincoln told 1011 NOW the building was condemned the day of the fire for furnace and water heater issues. They had been tagged for high levels of CO.

No injuries were reported during the fire, and damage estimates are not known.