Numerous left homeless after devastating fire engulfs multiple apartment units

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Five people are recovering after a three-alarm fire swept through an apartment building in New Orleans East, early Saturday morning.

"I thought I was going to die, cause I was the last one to leave my house," Arlyn Rocha said.

Rocha had moments to get out of her apartment, before flames engulfed it.

"Nobody really noticed because everybody was sleeping. (It) was the lack of fire smoke detectors. Cause I would've never noticed. I was upstairs on the second floor cause it's a second floor building. I would've never noticed unless someone screamed, and I pray to God and I thank God for that same reason," Rocha said.

NOFD Officer Nathel Morgan said the fire started from a nearby parked truck around 12:30 a.m.

"Multiple calls were soon thereafter called, telling them that the building has now caught on fire," Morgan said.

She said within half an hour, it went from a one-alarm fire to a three-alarm fire. Residents threw their children out of the window to safety.

"The baby actually fell below, they had a puddle of water so she actually walked away okay, but they still had smoke inhalation so they all were transported, all four residents were transported to a local hospital near here," Morgan said.

A firefighter injured his left shoulder, but Morgan said all five are expected to recover.

Community activist Cristi Fajardo knows many of the tenants and opened her home to the victims.

"I can't imagine not knowing where to go to sleep tonight, where to put my babies to sleep tonight," Fajardo said.

She said this should serve as a wake-up call to the city.

"It's a crisis when you're renting over 600, 700, 800, 900 dollar rent, and you don't have a smoke detector in any of these houses. I had over 20 families in my house just now and I asked them please, by the show of hands who has a smoke detector in your house? None of them," Fajardo said.

Families like the Rocha's who lost everything are fed up.

"It was just a matter of time before something like this happened that they realize they need to do better," Rocha said.

Firefighters said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, and the eight apartments affected will be knocked down.

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