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Families Worried After Fire Roars Through Apartment Complex

By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Residents of an apartment complex building that went up in flames Sunday evening grabbed what was left of their belongings Monday morning. They made plans to live away from home until further notice, while investigators still look into the cause of the fire.

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"I'm thankful and blessed because my daughter could have been there by herself like she often always is," said Sabrina Lacey, a single mother who is one of 49 people displaced in that building.

Aurora Fire Rescue responded to 2135 S. Rifle Way around 6:30 p.m. No one was injured, but 24 units were left in unlivable conditions. The Red Cross says as of Monday morning they were helping nine people who lived in the building. While only some units were burned, others had smoke and water damage and all lost access to utilities because of the fire.

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"I opened my door and there was smoke. I couldn't see anything," said Ivy Peacock, a neighbor living in the building next to the fire.

Peacock was inside her apartment at the time, but did not know what was happening until her boyfriend called her. He told her about the fire and said she needed to get out immediately.

"I was so scared. I was shaking the whole time until I got to the street. I was so sure it was going to get to our apartment," she explained.

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She grabbed her cat and made it to a safe spot while crews tried to contain the fire. The flames did not spread to her building or any other part of the complex. But she noticed the impact it was having on others while they were still trying to put out the fire.

"I saw a family standing in front of it and just crying. It was really sad," said Peacock.

Lacey did not learn about the fire until she got off of work around 10:30 p.m. She went to her friend's house to pick up her daughter.

"Chaos. God, I felt sad, I'm from Mississippi. I went through Katrina," she said.

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Only a year into their move to Colorado, they had spent even less time at this apartment complex. Lacey says working three jobs to support her family, she now has another challenge to face while adjusting to a new state.

"It's mind blowing, whereas back in Mississippi, I had family to lean on, we were all going through the same thing," said Lacey.

Her apartment has smoke damage but she managed to save some items from her unit. She does not know when she will be able to move back into her home. While it may seem like the routine she started in Colorado has been put on hold, she plans to move forward.

Investigators hope to release more information about the cause, which likely started outside the building and spread to nearby units, by the end of the week.

"We can't stop. We got to keep going," she said. "Prayer, keep me in your prayers."

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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