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Survivors of Expo Apartment blaze now without homes: A man and his dog who jumped from the third floor, a "hero" who grabbed a ladder from his work truck

Expo Apartment survivors recall terror and survival amid two-alarm fire
Expo Apartment survivors recall terror and survival amid two-alarm fire 02:32

Five people are hurt, one one of whom suffered serious injuries, from a two-alarm blaze at an apartment complex in Aurora, at least 60 units have been displaced.

Aurora Fire Rescue tweeted at 5:45 p.m. Saturday that it responded to a structure fire at a large multi-family residential complex on East Exposition Avenue, known as the Park Place at Expo Apartments. It's located on Havana Street, south of East Alameda Avenue.

This isn't the first time that a building at this apartment complex caught fire. The last time was in January 2022 and prior to that in 2021.

Shalem Wilson, a resident at the apartments, jumped out the window from the third floor of the building, along with his dog.

"It's either that or die; either break a bone or two -- chance breaking a bone or two -- or losing your life," said Wilson. "It's an option you have to gamble with."

He was asleep when the fire erupted, resting from a 12-hour work shift.

"My neighbor down there, I heard her saying 'come this way… come this way, run!' But, I was laying down and I rolled over and I didn't think it was that bad. But it was bad," added Wilson.

Another neighbor on the second floor, Marfo Somuah, says as soon as he heard the fire alarm go off, he quickly ran out.

"So I came out and we realized there was still people inside who wanted to come out through the windows, and this guy from nowhere just pulls a ladder from his car," said Somuah. "He saved lives today."

He's calling that man a hero for putting up a ladder he grabbed from his white truck to help kids, adults and pets escape the smoke.

"Out of nowhere, he brought his ladder before the firefighters came, he was rescuing people with his ladder and I think he deserves an applause," said Somuah.

Both men are now out of a home, along with at least 100 people.

"People need to be educated on these fire alarm things because no matter the volume of the alarm, you need to look for a safe place, you need to evacuate as soon as possible," said Somuah.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Village East Elementary School, 1433 S. Oakland Street in Aurora. Anyone impacted can visit the shelter. The Red Cross is also providing warm meals and a safe place to stay as they begin the process of recovering from this disaster.

The Red Cross is supporting approximately 100 people from approximately 48 units.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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