Residents displaced after Urbandale fire stay 'positive'

Woman who lived in third floor unit: "It's my life in there"

URBANDALE - Dozens of families are living with friends and family, after a massive fire ripped through an Urbandale condo building Monday.

The blaze started at around 4:00 p.m. Monday at Plumwood Terrace, which is off of 86th Street in Urbandale. Flames shot out and smoke poured everywhere for several hours. The displaced residents tell Local 5 they are absolutely devastated. They are now staying with loved ones in the area - and are just trying to remain optimistic.

"The firemen were racing up and just said get out get out get out," said Nanette LaVia, a displaced resident who lived on the third floor of the building that caught fire.

People like LaVia who live at Plumwood Terrace still re-living Monday afternoon over and over again, unable to get the massive flames and billowing smoke out of their heads.

Tuesday afternoon, nearly 24 hours later, some residents were able to get back inside to salvage whatever belongings they have left. But not everyone had that chance.

"They're not letting me in because I live on the north end of the building," LaVie said.

LaVia's condo is located on the third floor of the building, right where the worst of the fire spread. Fire crews were still dousing that area in water all day Tuesday. LaVia believes everything in her condo is destroyed.

"It's my life in there and my pictures and everything I have, and so I just needed to see it I guess, I probably won't be seeing much," LaVia said.

Other displaced residents are also feeling the loss, but are trying to stay positive.

"You know, losing everything in 6 hours is not good," said displaced resident Clyde Ray. "But with the help from Plumwood Terrace and the insurance company, I'm sure we'll get through it."

Adding to that hope is the fact that everyone made it out safely and had shelter Monday night. The Red Cross says that is rare, especially considering how large this fire was.

"It did surprise us a little bit, that we're dealing with so many families and dozens of individuals and none of them needed a place to stay [Monday] night," said Mark Tauscheck of the American Red Cross of Greater Iowa. "All of them had a plan B which is really good news."

Residents are now hoping that good news will continue.

"In times like this you just have to stay positive and know that there's brighter days ahead and you've got to just get through it," LaVia said.

The Red Cross says as of Tuesday evening, they only have one resident who has opened up a case with them so far. That person will need disaster assistance funding to help get them back on their feet.

Investigators still do not know what caused the fire, as they are just starting to get into the condo to assess all the damage. The flames were shooting out of the attic Monday, but fire officials cannot say whether or not that is where the fire started.

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