Families Displaced after Early Morning Fire

Published 01/29 2012 06:52PM

Updated 01/29 2012 10:49PM

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- An early morning fire displaces 23 people.

Fire crews responded to the 911 call after Brittany Village residents saw smoke and fire pouring out of building 1505.

"My mom heard a door slam in the laundry room," said Yanela Camejo, who lived in the first floor of the building. "She's such a light sleeper. She woke up and smelled smoke and started getting everybody out."

Camejo, along with her husband, mother, brother, and son, couldn't go out the front door because of fire on the other side. They had to jump through their window at ground level to escape.

"We couldn't grab anything," said Camejo. "All we were able to get was the clothes on our backs."

Three floors above them, nine-year-old Stefany Martinez had just fallen asleep watching the Disney channel when her mother came screaming to wake her up.

"She was yelling and told me to grab my coat and my shoes," said Martinez. "I was so scared and we were running and I was holding onto my mom's hand."

As soon as they left their apartment, a wall of smoke blocked their view. After getting a few quick breaths back in their apartment, Martinez, her mother, and her step-father ran toward the front door.

"As soon as we got there, we saw a fireman coming through and he had walked through the fire," said Martinez. "He got us out and we could see the smoke everywhere. The front door was even on fire but he got us out."

The Midland Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted the 11 families who lost their homes.

At the Red Cross headquarters in downtown St. Joseph, volunteers made hot meals for the families and also provided essential needs like diapers for a few toddlers.

"I'm just not able to eat," said Camejo. "The food won't go down. I'm too nervous."

Money for supplies and food was given to the needy families, some of which had no insurance, jobs, or even money to support themselves.

"We've got nothing but what we ran out with," said Camejo's mother, Milca, through a translator. "We didn't even have enough to clothe the grandkids."

By ten in the morning, nobody had slept since the fire. The only one to get any rest was Camejo's one-year-old son Jose.

"He was so scared and shaking," said Camejo. "He wouldn't go to his dad or with his cousin. He only wanted me. I had to cradle him just to get him to sleep."

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