More than a dozen people are now without everything after fire ripped through a Martinsville apartment building last night.
Now the Fire Chief is reminding people about renter's insurance and to call the fire department as soon as you see a fire.
The fire took off fast and damaged 12 apartments on Madison Street.
Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson says it was the quick response from police that got everyone out safely.
When firefighters got there he says they were fighting a building that was completely up in flames and they had trouble getting enough water on the fire.
"And we heard a boom, boom boom! And somebody said lord have mercy!" Neighbor Ann Fountain said.
That's when Ann Fountain says the bricks started flying through the air towards her apartment complex.
"And we run out on the front porch and the fire was gushing at our building, throwing debris and bricks everywhere. And my husband said, run Ann run! So I ran that way and he took off down the street right there," Fountain said.
Fountain is friends with people that lived inside the complex.
"And the two old ladies, they were coming home from church on the church bus and realized they lost everything they had, it was sad," Fountain said.
Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson says several of the tenants did not have insurance.
"Unfortunate when you have to choose between electricity, food, medicine and insurance. It's one of those necessary evils. That we would like to have folks check into," Chief Anderson said.
Chief Anderson says the fire started in the back of the building, at apartment 12. He says at first the tenants tried to put the fire out. which delayed their response.
"We were so far behind, on actually receiving the call. The 30 second rule where fire doubles in size every 30 seconds. You take the size of this apartment, 30 seconds later its 2 apartments, 2 apartments to 4 apartments," Chief Anderson said.
And firefighters had trouble getting enough water to the fire, an issue chief says could cost millions of dollars to fix.
"The system itself is in tact. But with the height of the location we are at, That in itself creates a challenge," Chief Anderson said.
"I'm so happy that they didn't get hurt because I know them and I love them," Fountain said.
Chief Anderson wants to stress how important smoke alarms are.
He says the department provides them for free and will even put them in for you.
So he's asking the community to double check your smoke alarms and if you don't have renter's insurance, get it today.
He says the fire's case was accidental.