Highland Towers fire causes mass evacuation of seniors

Investigators still do not know what caused the fire at Highland Towers. Five people were hurt this morning, two of them critically.

The building is an independent living facility for seniors. Even though the fire was not widespread, at least 100 seniors were run out of their homes.

Resident Tom Hayes heard the alarm when he returned from his morning work-out. So I went outside - they said, you're supposed to leave the building. You're supposed to leave the building," he told us.

Courtney Dillard lives nearby. She came to help the elderly victims, stuck outside on this chilly morning. "We brought some extra blankets. They said there were people out here didn't have nothing but their pajamas on. We wanted to help em keep warm," she said.

Investigators say the fire started in an apartment on the 10th floor. The flames were contained to that unit, but both the 9th and 10th floors sustained heavy smoke damage. Most of the 140 emergency workers at the scene showed up to help the elderly victims escape the three-alarm fire. It took about an hour to get everyone out of the building.

"Some aren't able to walk as well as others, some are on oxygen, and you have those types of challenges where you have to move people down stairways," said Deputy Fire Chief Gary Ludwig.

Most of the remaining residents were allowed back into the building by mid-day.

There are a couple of floors that fire officials believe won't be livable right away, but the manager there told us those residents will be taken care of. Investigators tell us the building was up to fire codes.

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