When Jennifer Hill first saw the fire Sunday night at Cooper Cove Apartments, it was just smoke coming from Building 9.
Less than 20 minutes later, flames that ultimately destroyed the structure erupted from the building at 4770 Milgen Road.
Firefighters were called to the blaze around 6:45 p.m. Columbus Fire & EMS Capt. Brian Russell said more calls about the fire kept coming in as firefighters drove to the apartments near Cooper Creek Park.
“When we pulled up on the scene, we had a lot of fire in the upstairs,” Russell said.
No firefighters were hurt, Russell said. Firefighters were still checking apartment occupancy Sunday night to determine whether anyone was injured. Hill, who was visiting family at the apartment building next to Building 9, stepped outside because her mother said she was blocked in.
“That’s when we saw the building was smoking,” Hill said.
Some 15 minutes later, everyone in Hill’s building was told to leave it.
A woman who declined to be named said she was playing cards with family members in an apartment in Building 9. They heard a crackling in their furnace and when they opened its door, it was on fire.
They tried to use an extinguisher on the fire, but the crackling grew louder and everyone left the building.
None of the woman’s family was hurt, though she said there are dogs and cats in the upstairs apartment.
While flames raged on the roof of the building and inside around 7:30 p.m., only a few flames could be seen at the building’s corners 15 minutes later.
Russell said it took about 30 to 45 minutes to get the fire under control.