Residents go inside apartment building for the first time since massive fire

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WEST DES MOINES – Residents are finally allowed back in their units for the first time since fire rips through building.

They only got a quick walk through Tuesday and Wednesday to grab some of their things. 

“I was hoping I could get in there a lot quicker,” said resident, Jake Vanderslice.

On January 22, a fire raged though the Olde English Village apartment building in West Des Moines. The flames were so bad it took off parts of the roof.

We talked to Jake Vanderslice that day as he watched fire fighters work to put out the blaze and salvage what they could. 

“Just kind of planned on the worst, hoped for the best.”

Almost seven weeks later, Jake and other residents are just this week being let inside to get their stuff.

“Got to my door and it had a big sheet of plywood over it, protecting it. Kind of a nervous excitement isn’t the best way to put it, but just wanting to get in there and just see how bad it was and what I could get.”

Jake says he is one of the lucky ones. Even though it’s taken a while, he says it was nice to go in and be able to get some of his things.

“I have a lot of water and smoke damage. And be able to asses that and move forward. But luckily I was able to get a lot of my personal and sentimental items.”

Jake thinks the hold up for getting back inside was because of the investigation and the weather. 

“Unfortunately the fire happened during the cold months and I think that is really what has caused the wait.”

Moving forward Jake is excited to go back in his unit again next week and get the rest of his belongings. He says it will be nice to get all his stuff out and finally be able to put the fire in the past.

“Just do one last sweep and make sure I’ve got all my personal sentimental items.”

Jake says he is thankful for the community’s support the last several weeks. He says he won’t be moving back to this complex. He is currently staying with family and going to move to an apartment closer to work.

Local 5 reached out to the apartment complex and the West Des Moines Fire Dept. Neither gave us any new details about what caused the fire.

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