Residents at the Heather Croft apartment complex say just after 11:45 Wednesday night they heard a loud bang, or some type of an explosion, and then moments later when they looked out of their windows they saw massive flames and smelled smoke.
Fire victim Kenneth Cruz said, "We were sitting there watching TV and then we heard like a big bang! Boom! And the whole building shook. In like two minutes cops were just banging on the door and then we just seen the fire everywhere – coming out of the top of the building and on the side of the building." Egg Harbor Township resident, Devin Washington, added, "It was in flames, the house was in flames, and it just passed onto the next house - my friend's house over there. She's crying, her moms is crying, it was crazy."
The fire broke out in a building between Hingston Avenue and Sycamore Drive.
Fire officials from the Bargaintown Fire Company were the first to respond and say they evacuated nearby residents after arriving on the scene. Assistant Chief William Hancock of the Bargaintown Company explained, "We had heavy fire through 3 apartments, which fortunately, the fire walls did their job because it is a 24 apartment building."
Displaced Heather Croft residents said they were in shock at what they were watching. Brandon Longstreth said, "I lost my apartment during Sandy and I came to stay with my Dad until I find a new place and now…I have no idea what's going on." Cruz told NBC40, "I'm just waiting and praying that everything will be alright and we'll go from there but from the way it looks out here...it's bad...it's real bad."
Fire officials said they were always concerned about a fire breaking out in this complex because there were neither fire escapes nor sprinkler systems built into the apartments.
Officials on the scene reported no injuries to residents, but did say a firefighter was treated for hyperventilation.
There is no word yet on the cause of the fire.