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Ames Apartment Building Catches Fire

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DES MOINES, Iowa - An Ames apartment building caught fire Sunday morning.

Firefighters were called to the South Meadows Apartment Complex at 301 S. 5th Street early Sunday morning.

Fire officials said the fire ignited in a parking stall below the apartments and spread up the exterior of the building and into the attic.

Officials said the fire was able to spread so quickly because the building had no fire stops, and was not required to because it was so old.

The apartment was made up of roughly half students and half families, and all of them were evacuated.

About 100 people lost their homes. Most residents said they did not have renter's insurance, including Jordan Tuerler, who said he was planning on moving out in two weeks.

"All my family stuff, pictures, stuff I've had pretty much all my life. Pretty much now, I just have a shirt, shoes and a computer," Tuerler said.
Tony Mason stood outside and held his wife as they watched the fire burn their apartment.

"You wonder what to do now -- don't know where to start," Mason said.
The American Red Cross set up on site to offer help with residents' immediate needs.

"We're going to try and meet their short-term needs for a place to stay, food to eat, water to drink, then start looking at some clothing and a few days shelter before we can figure out a long-term solution for them," Red Cross representative Clint Miller said.

Iowa State University officials said they opened two floors of Willow Hall as temporary housing for the displaced residents.

Fire officials said no residents were injured, and only one firefighter was taken to a hospital for heat exhaustion, but they said he was OK Sunday night.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the Ames Fire Department said it doesn't believe the blaze was suspicious in nature.

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