LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Fire crews fought flames at a La Crosse apartment complex Monday that left 16 people without a home.
Crews got called to 825 Grove Street just before 3 p.m. The initial call reported a shrub fire outside the building, according to the La Crosse Fire Department, who said an official cause will be announced Tuesday.
When crews arrived, they saw heavy smoke and flames spewing from the apartments, according to Div. Chief Tom Wallerich.
The fire already reached the attic, Wallerich said, which concerned firefighters that the roof would collapse when crews went in to search for potential victims.
"The fire service will risk a lot to save a lot. There's the potential here for a lot of life safety loss so we had crews inside immediately," he said.
Crews were ordered out of the building immediately after the search, Wallerich added.
All 16 residents escaped four-apartment complex before crews arrived. No injuries have been reported.
Firefighters used an aerial devise to extinguish the fire.
"You don't know what to think. Your mind is racing. It's not real," said Zachary Shannon, who's entire apartment went up in flames.
The 16 residents are now homeless and made calls to nearby family and friends to find a place to stay. Like Shannon, who will likely stay with his sister.
"You know we're just holding each other up when we need to be held up, smiling, we're trying," he said. "We're going to make it through together."
Those without a home will be given a hotel room by the Red Cross.
After they put the fire out, fire crews went back into the home to recover some belongings.
Shannon got his computer and gaming system back, along with a bag of clothes.
The fire department said there is severe smoke and fire damage.