SHREWSBURY, Mo. (KMOV) -- About 50 residents of a St. Louis County apartment complex were left homeless after a three-alarm fire Sunday morning, officials said.
Shrewsbury Fire Chief Bill Fox said the fire broke out around 7:50 a.m. at River Crest Apartments in the 7000 block of Nottingham Avenue.
Fox said the fire appeared to have started when a child’s blanket came into contact with a space heater in a second-floor apartment. The child alerted his parents, who tried to put out the fire with another blanket and water.
Katherine Bruckner, who lives in an apartment directly below, said she heard a “boom” around the time of the fire.
“I could hear (the neighbors) upstairs. They were in a panic,” she said.
Travis Hall, another resident of the complex, said he lowered his four children to the ground on a makeshift rope of sheets from the family’s second-floor apartment. He said firefighters rescued him and his pregnant wife.
Resident Sharonda Phenix, who has two children, ages 1 and 4, said she handed them through a window to a person outside her first-floor apartment.
"I was panicked. I was crying ... trying to get my kids out. That was the most important thing."
Fox said at one point, it was believed that two firefighters were trapped inside the building.
A mayday call went out and the building was cleared. The firefighters on scene were then accounted for and firefighting efforts continued, Fox said.
Many of the complex’s 15 occupied apartments sustained water and smoke damage, leading fire officials to condemn the building.
The American Red Cross was working Sunday to help residents find temporary housing.
Fox said it took firefighters from Shrewsbury and several neighboring departments more than an hour to bring the fire under control.