By Ashley Nix
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Just two weeks before Christmas, dozens of families are without a home after a huge fire ripped through the Carriage Hill Court Apartment Complex in Bessemer. Less than 24 hours later all that's left is a burned out shell of a building and charred Christmas trees.
Captain Michael Brannon with the Bessemer Fire Department says it was a big blaze that took every firefighter from the entire city of Bessemer.
"Whether you're rich, poor or middle class, it doesn't matter," said Brannon. "When the basic necessities of life are taken from you, it makes it hard."
The apartment where the blaze started is sealed, boarded and locked. Firefighters say it's still not safe to go inside to determine the exact cause of what is being called an accidental fire. The only sounds a day later dripping water and a lone smoke detector, still beeping. The only things left are charred Christmas trees and burned memories.
Deshondra Morris previously lived at the complex and says its hard to see it now.
"My Christmas is ruined because I think about a lot of families that don't have anything right now," said Morris. "I had a room once before here and its gone now."
Candace Thompson lives here now. "I didn't know if my apartment was on fire or not," Thompson said.
When she got to the burning buildings, she didn't know what to do.
"It took no time for the fire to grow and really become a roaring inferno. It happened so fast before our eyes, we literally saw the buildings collapse." The mother of 7-year old Destiny says the most horrifying event: watching a mother and child jump from their balcony.
"They threw the child down first and then the female jumped over with just her underwear on. She had to jump and she was injured, you could tell her legs were injured when she jumped," Thompson said. "To know that somebody is literally jumping for their life is very scary, very scary."
The Red Cross is assisting all the displaced residents. Bessemer fire leaders expect to have an official cause of fire next week.