Forty people have been forced from their homes by an Omaha apartment fire early Sunday morning.
Firefighters were called to the Sierra Place Apartments south of 75th and Maple just after 3 a.m. Radio reports indicated three people trapped on a third-floor balcony were rescued.
The fire was under control about a half-hour later. An estimated 30 units were damaged by flames, smoke or water.
The Red Cross is helping those displaced by the fire. No word yet on what might have started it.
Before fire crews extended their ladders and doused the flames at the Sierra Place Apartments Sunday morning, residents were already counting their blessings.
"When I came out, there was a piece of flaming thing falling down and almost got me on the head, it scared me half to death, luckily everyone got out safely and that's the main thing,” resident Deborah Sawyer said.
Monday morning the building was boarded up, showing the scars of the flames. It was a scene that was still fresh in the minds of residents Coleen Bocklemann and Sabra Ohrt.
"I was still screaming when they were trying to force the door down because I still didn't know what had happened,” Bocklemann said.
"They had a ladder and they were taking the children and the family down the ladder off the side of the house, the flames and ashes were flying up in the air,” Ohrt said.
No one was injured.
Ohrt is now staying at a hotel. Bocklemann, who is staying with a friend, says, ‘I’d just like to get back to my own home.”
Investigators believe the fire started in the northeast part of the building. "A lot of people saying so and so started it or this and that. It could be an electric fire, it doesn't really matter, in the end it happened and you are just trying to put it all back together,” Ohrt said.