WORCESTER - Worcester residents in the Plumley Village apartments were woken up by alarms, the smell of smoke and neighbors banging on their doors shortly before 4 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
The mass evacuation was due to a fire inside the massive apartment building at 16 Laurel St. A fire in the building's electrical room caused the city to shut off electricity for the whole building.
It's still unclear what caused the fire.
The city estimates that roughly 300 to 400 residents were evacuated and unable to return to their homes on the holiday.
"I was going to cook at home because I don't have my family around, so I was just going to cook at home," resident Lillian Clarke told WBZ-TV. She lives in the building with her husband and two young boys.
Instead, they're spending the holiday - and likely several days after - in the Holiday Inn nearby with hundreds of other residents who have been relocated.
"We have life," resident Jesus Matos said optimistically. "The other things, you can recover."
As hundreds gathered as many of their belongings as they could and settled in at the Holiday Inn, there was a silver lining: the kindness of strangers. A local church brought in hot Thanksgiving meals for everyone staying at the hotel.
"Some people don't have places to go, so I am so grateful you know," Lillian Clarke said.
The city said the time frame for restoring power to the building is "currently unknown, however, crews are working diligently with National Grid and the City of Worcester Division of Inspectional Services to make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible."
Residents said they were told the repairs could take days to weeks.
Inspectional Services is working with building management to allow residents to safely go back into the building during a "temporary repair."
As of midday Friday, some of the power has been restored, as well as the heat and elevators.
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