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Fast-spreading fire forces families out of south Toledo apartments

A Toledo firefighter works to extinguish flames at a south Toledo apartment fire. (Jim Nelson/WNWO).

Dozens of people have been forced out of their homes by flames after a fire broke out at an apartment complex Thursday afternoon in south Toledo.

Jeff Ott was in his apartment when the chaos unfolded.

"I heard somebody outside of my window say 'what the heck is that?' "

Crews say this was a wind-aided blaze.

Fire travels very fast as it is, but as winds were pushing at maybe 15 to 20 knots through here with maybe higher gusts, it was causing that fire to move very rapidly," said TFD spokesman Sterling Rahe.

"Literally within minutes it just started coming down," Ott recalled.

He was one of dozens looking on, wondering what -- if anything might be salvaged.

"Just a ot of emotions," he said. "You don't know what to do with it."

The American Red Cross was on scene coordinating relief efforts as it quickly became apparent this would be a total property loss.

"We're just trying to make sure everybody knows we're here and we're here to help them," said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter.

"28 years of memories," Ott said of his burned apartment unit. "That's my life in there. I've got what I have on my back, my wallet and I was able to bring my dog out with me but that was it. Everything else was in there."

"I'm doing good," said Starr'Shae Woodmore, a school-age girl who lived in the building. "A little sad because my house got burned down and all the things I loved in there were really important to me."

St. Patrick of Heatherdowns partnered with the Red Cross for immediate assistance.

A secondary shelter has now been set up at the Wolf Creek YMCA in Maumee.

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