Families at Park Jefferson lose everything in fire

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The fire at Park Jefferson Apartments spread quickly through the building right at the entrance of the complex. Flames took over one apartment right after the other and when it was all over thirty-two of the forty apartments in the building were destroyed.

“That’s mine up there at the very top, the corner one which is basically kind of missing everything,” Sara Marsolais pointed out what was left of her second floor apartment. The roof and the walls were all gone, her apartment is now just an empty shell.

 “So where the closet door is that was my bedroom and there is one of my dresses that was in the closet,” that was all Marsolais could indentify in the charred mess that was once her home.

Firefighters said it looked like the fire started near Marsolais’ apartment, “It was terrifying, I wake up surrounded my smoke and I run out and I just see flames.” 

Marsolais said she woke up in a thick, black fog, smoke pumped inside her kitchen from through the corner of the ceiling from the attic. It was the smell that woke her up; Marsolais said the smoke detector inside her apartment did not go off.

“With the amount of smoke that was already in my apartment, it should have gone off,” Marsolais said.

With no time to spare and little room to breathe, Marsolais ran out of her apartment with nothing but the clothes on her back, “I had on a tank top pajama pants and my boots, and that’s all I had, no coat no nothing.”

Marsolais’ cat Pinky and all of her belonging left behind lost in the fire. In the parking lot she stood in shock, anxiously waiting for the fire trucks to arrive, “I ran out and all I saw was a police car and that was it.”

A Mishawaka Police Officer who lives in the complex saw the fire on his way to work, he ran door to door to get people out of the apartments. The officer told Ousra Dzidoliaaite “Just get your coat and shoes on and get out.”

Dzidoliaaite lives toward the end of the building; she said the officer told people who lived down them the fire wouldn’t reach their apartments, but they had to evacuate. So Dzidoliaaite left everything behind, and then out in the cold she watched the flames spread, “It just kept going and going and it happened really fast, faster than you would think,” Dzidoliaaite said.

Marsolais the fire took over the building in just ten minutes, “I saw smoke, I saw flames and then they just got bigger.”

Thirty-two families lost their homes in the fire, “I don’t have anything, the only clothes I have are the clothes I have on right now, pretty much homeless and I have to start from scratch,” Dzidoliaaite said.

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