FORT DODGE, Iowa — Multiple families and residents are displaced after a large fire broke out at an apartment building early Sunday morning.

Emergency crews responded to an apartment fire at around 1:19 a.m. at the West Ridge Apartments. When firefighters arrived on scene they found the entire backside of a building engulfed in flames.

“The call came in as a small fire on the backside of one of the apartment buildings,” said Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter. “When crews arrived, they were met with the whole back of the building on fire and really heavy smoke conditions and people self-evacuating.” 

Latisha Lott’s son, Josiah, is in the Army and he helped to ensure all residents got out.

“Someone knocked on our door we don’t know who, but from that point on he was knocking on everybody’s door,” said Lott. “I said we gotta go. We got to go. We got to meet everybody at the end of the block and he said ‘I know mom I’m gonna be a minute I’m in the military and it’s my duty to take care of everybody.’”

No injuries occurred during the fire, but all eight units inside the building were damaged.

Lott and several other residents were busy on Monday removing items of value from their damaged homes.

“I think some of the people in the building across the street left just because the heavy smoke was being pushed into their building,” said Hergenreter. “We have two of our investigators and an investigator from State Fire Marshals still working on the case, gathering information.”

People around the complex said they knew who started the fire, but so far officials have not released a cause for the fire.