LAUREL, Md. - Larry Meadows and his wife are among the 40 people left homeless when fire ravaged their apartment building in Laurel.
"The alarm went off and everyone was knocking on the windows to notify everybody else there was a fire,” said Meadows, “We got out there in our underwear and we saw the flames... just big, big flames."
The early morning fire Sunday drove residents of the Country Meadows Apartments our of the burning structure, and by the time firefighters had extinguished the flames, 20 of 24 units had been destroyed.
Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, but some victims say it’s no mystery to them.
"We say it was a propane tank in the back that started the fire,” said Meadows, “Somebody left the propane out there..."
"You think they left the burner on the grill?"
"Yes, because it doesn't make any sense. My neighbor saw it go straight up to the building and when it caught it couldn't stop."
The American Red Cross showed up right behind the firefighters with money for food, clothing and shelter, and it has put most of the victims up at the Comfort Inn just up Route 1 in Jessup, but the challenge now is regaining their normal lives.
"Just living out of your comfort zone… You're used to going to your own bedroom, bathroom and everything and now we're at this one hotel and you don't know what to do... just going back and forth," said George Ayisi.
"Nobody had any insurance. They lost everything,” added Meadows, “Kids going to school... three and four kids... they lost everything."
The estimated damage to the apartment building has been set at $700,000.
A pair of firefighters who suffered an ankle strain and heat exhaustion have been treated and released from local hospitals.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
SPECIAL REPORT | Thousands of child care center inspections reports are NOW AVAILABLE. Find out what inspectors founds inside day care centers across the state.
SPECIAL REPORT | When it's out of your hands, when your life is at the mercy of an armed, masked man staring down at you from the barrel of a gun in your own home, you grasp at whatever it is you can control; breathing, composure, or faith.
SPECIAL REPORT | ABC2 Investigator Joce Sterman has reviewed thousands of pages of documents for her Bad Medicine report.
More Harford County Crime Reports