Fire damages Towne Oaks Village apartment building

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - It's a story Channel 7 News has been covering since Daybreak. Families at the Towne Oaks Village Apartments off Rodney Parham were driven out of their units at about 4:30 a.m. Monday morning because of a fire.

Everyone made it out with no injuries, but most people lost everything. Some people didn't even have time to put shoes on. That is how thick the smoke was when they woke up.

"I woke up and tried to turn my fan back on but it wouldn't turn back on. I went back to sleep." It wasn't long before 15-year old Loquacious Browning's mom told him the unit was filling with smoke. "She got me up and told me to get outside."

At about 4:30 in the morning, he took matters into his own hands. "I knocked on everyone's door to wake them up so they wouldn't get burned up or anything like that."

Everyone got out. When the smoke cleared, families returned to see what they could salvage, Browning says it wasn't much, "Kind of mad but sad at the same time."

Brigette Williams says, "In the fire this morning, we had approximately 13 people who asked for assistance, but since Friday we have responded to 30 fires in the state."

Williams is with the American Red Cross in Arkansas. She says that even though people like to give physical contributions, they are in need on financial donations because they put families in hotels and give them a smart card to buy food and clothing, in addition to the comfort kit.

"We average about $1,000 per family."

That doesn't compare to the financial loss of valuable acquired over years. Some of the displaced families don't have renters insurance that cost as little as $15 a month. Williams says, "The look on people's faces when they realize how much they've lost and I can't tell you how many times we've heard 'I was going to get insurance, I thought about it.'"

The fire marshal hasn't released the cause of the fire. Like the Red Cross, the Little Rock Fire Department has been busy the past few days. One building is a total loss, that's 12 units. The majority of the units were not occupied.

Arkansas leads the nation in the number of fires and the number of fire fatalities.