Residents Seeking Temporary Shelter After Three-Alarm Apartment Fire

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines police and fire crews responded to a third-alarm fire at a downtown Des Moines apartment building that displaced dozens of its residents.

Crews were called to the Elliott Building at 219 4th Street about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday after a caller reported heavy smoke coming from the complex.

Firefighters entered the building and found a fire in an apartment on the second floor.

"It's a very heavily populated multi-unit apartment complex. We had lots of residents. Almost all of the residents were home at the time of the fire, so we had a lot of people to account for," said Des Moines Fire Cpt. Mark Dooley.

The fire was contained, but portions of the building sustained extensive damage. Crews were on scene for several hours making sure the fire was extinguished and high outside temperatures made the operation difficult for firefighters. A number became quickly fatigued.

The investigation and structural inspection will continue Thursday. Firefighters also escorted residents to their apartments when possible to retrieve essential personal items once the fire was extinguished.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced residents and has set up an emergency shelter at the Des Moines Public Schools Central Campus at 1800 Grand Ave. About 44 people are sheltered there receiving meals, water and medical support like first-aid and replacing medications.

DART provided two buses and drivers to temporary shelter, evacuated residents on scene and transported residents to temporary shelters.

Des Moines fire officials say approximately four pets were affected, and the Animal Rescue League is helping shelter the pets temporarily during resident sheltering.

The investigation is ongoing. Check back for updates.

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