Breaking News
More () »

Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Tenants react to fire that destroyed apartments

NEWTON – One of the units in the Walnut Creek Apartments caught on fire, displacing residents.

NEWTON – One of the units in the Walnut Creek Apartments caught on fire, displacing residents. 

The fire department was dispatched to the complex at around 10 p.m. Monday after reports of flames coming from the roof. 

“I woke up to smoke in the apartment. There was screaming outside. There were people banging on doors. There were firemen. There was just smoke everywhere and it kind of just took my breathe away. I just had to run outside,” said Resident Kylea Huizenga. 

It was a surreal moment that neighbors who lived in the complex aren’t going to forget. 

“I got here and I just wanted to make sure the family was safe. My fiance and three girls. Then I wanted to go back inside for our cats and anyone else who might still be in the building,” said Resident Patrick Evans-Winfield.

The tenants have gone back to see what’s left days after the blaze. The complex has signs on the door letting them know the building has been condemned, but they’re allowed to grab belongings all week from 8am-5pm. 

“The electronics and stuff is not damaged at all. The couches and anything that can really retain smoke is the stuff that we’re probably not going to keep,” said Evans-Winfield.

The fire started in a unit on the third floor above Patrick and his family’s home. Now when you walk through, power is out and soot covers the ground. 

“That whole back wall I think on two apartments is completely blown out. It is unsettling to know that my loved ones were here,” said Evans-Winfield.

Residents are now salvaging what they can while investigators work to figure out what the cause of the fire was. Neighbors say they have a hunch about what could’ve happened. 

“A tenant that the fire started in her complex was getting evicted the morning after the fire, so we all believe that it was intentionally set. It’s not confirmed, but I want to know if she did it to get back at the landlords or just to burn the place down without caring who was in it,” said Evans-Winfield.

While neighbors search for answers as to why, they’re thankful to be alive.

“People that I’ve never even had a conversation with before are coming out of the woodwork and offering help. It’s very comforting,” said Huizenga. 

The community is also pitching in to help the over 20 people that have been displaced. The Newton Laundromat is having an event on Thursday evening at 5PM to help the residents wash clothes and get the fire smell out of their belongings. The local Walmart is helping out as well.