STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - An overnight fire leaves a Starkville apartment building at a total loss.
The fire happened just before midnight at one building at the Avalon Apartments. More than 20 people were displaced as a result.
A few men were injured and they are being called heroes for saving lives.
Volunteer Firefighter Tim Rice was just driving down Highway 25 when he saw flames so he quickly pulled over and was one of the first on scene. He says there were two brothers and their roommate running around beating on doors in just their shorts trying to save lives.
“Those two men picked her up and carried that invalid woman out by themselves," Rice said.
Those young men had burns on their backs. One of those two men is Kyle McCullough.
"Everything happened so fast," McCullough said. "I'm just glad we were able to get everyone out in time."
Rice says he followed their lead and started helping get people out while the building was on fire.
“There was a blind woman standing in the stairwell not knowing where to go," Rice said. "Everyone else had left except me and her and I led her out and across the parking lot.”
As soon as he got that woman to safety, he turned around and saw people jumping from balconies.
Ryan Phillips, editor at the Starkville Daily News, shot video just minutes after the fire started.
“You could see it from the highway," Phillips said. "It was fully engulfed especially from the back and when I say fully engulfed, the entire building was in flames.”
Phillips said fire crews responded quickly and it was just an emotional scene all night.
“It was an emotionally tense scene," he said. "A lot of people crying and consoling each other.”
Glendacia Holley said she and her boyfriend had to jump from the second floor of the apartment building during the fire.
"We had to jump from the balcony because the staircase had already collapsed by the time we noticed that everything was on fire," Holley said.
There is now yellow tape wrapped around the building and no trespassing signs posted.
The cause is under investigation but Fire Chief Charles Yarbrough said they are trying to narrow down in which apartment the fire started. He said the building has collapsed in some areas so it's not safe for firefighters to go in and investigate.
The American Red Cross and OSERVS are helping more than 20 people who were displaced.
Louis Dawkins volunteers for OSERVS based in Oktibbeha County.
"We've had a few to come in and we're expecting more," Dawkins said. "We're in a position to help them with some very short-term housing."