COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Just three days before Christmas, nearly a dozen Columbus families were displaced after their homes caught fire Tuesday afternoon.
For a few hours, Columbus firefighters battled the blaze at the apartments on the 1400 block of MLK Boulevard.
EMS has also been on the scene assisting at least two of the residents who were distressed and appeared to be having anxiety attacks.
We do not know at this time if anyone was injured in this fire.
We spoke to one resident who said had it not been for her neighbor knocking at her door and telling her about the fire that she, her husband and her three children may not be alive.
Several of the residents stood outside barefoot because they had to evacuate immediately, with no time to grab their coats or shoes.
Many of the parents say their children's Christmas gifts were also destroyed in the fire.
"When I say everything, I mean from the shoes they wear to the clothes on their backs," said resident Ashley Messer. "Car seats. Everything. Birth certificates, social security cards... every single thing we own is gone!"
Resident Natasha Horton says her family lost everything.
"We're basically homeless for Christmas," Horton said. "All of their dinner is in there. All of their toys in there. All of their clothes. My kids don't have any shoes. No nothing. We had to run out the house barefoot. We don't have anything. Everything is gone."
We also spoke to Alton Kuykendall, the owner of the apartment complex, who says he thinks about 15 families were occupying the apartment that caught fire.
According to the owner of Dixie Realty, these apartments were not covered by insurance.
The United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley says those in need of assistance can dial 211 or (706) 405-4775 to speak with a specialist.
The local Red Cross was on the scene working to identify the families in need. They will provide temporary lodging and any other short term needs for the families that were displaced.
Cash donations to the Red Cross can be made at their location on Rosemont Drive behind St. Francis Hospital. For more information about how you can help, call the Red Cross' disaster program manager Alex Balkcum at (706) 325-9445.
Additionally, Clear Channel will collect items for the families on Wednesday, Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Piggly Wiggly on Buena Vista Road.