Firefighters searched for a cause Monday afternoon after a devastating fire at the Clearbrook Village apartment complex. The fire sent three people to the hospital and left eight units destroyed.
When officials arrived on the scene, the fire was out of control. Resident Jessica Toms said people still in the building were crying for help. "They were saying, 'Help, help me, please help,'" she said. "There were flames everywhere."
The flames were fueled by the dozens of pine trees that surrounded the complex, making a tough job for firefighters even tougher.
"We had trees catching on fire, roofs of houses catching on fire," said Mark Forrest of the Memphis Fire Department. "We also had yards catching on fire."
Ordinary citizens like Toms became firefighters, too, pitching in as the fire threatened nearby homes. "I turned the water hose on and just started spraying," she said, "spraying as fast as I could."
Firefighters sprayed as fast as they could, but could not save many of the apartment's units. In all, eight were destroyed. It took 15 to 20 pieces of fire equipment, and nearly 70 firefighters to put out the blaze.
Three people, two children and an adult, were injured trying to escape the fire, and were taken to the hospital in non-critical condition.