WINCHESTER — Seven people were rescued and several more displaced by a fire Wednesday morning at an apartment building, Winchester Fire Chief Eric Hunter said.
No residents at Hillcrest Manor Apartments on Oxford Drive were injured, but two were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Hunter said. Two firefighters went to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Michael Shane Estes, 41, and Monica Spicer, 28, said they woke up to find a fire in their apartment.
"The whole wall, the couch and everything on that side was on fire," Estes said. "I woke her up and went to the door and burned my hand trying to get out the door."
"It was scary," Spicer said. Lily, her calico cat, died in the fire. "She was my baby."
The couple said a smoke alarm in the apartment did not alert them to the blaze.
"If there's smoke that comes from the kitchen, it goes off," Spicer said. "I'd have been dead if it wasn't for him."
A preliminary investigation determined the apparent cause of the fire was smoking materials, such as a cigarette, said Hunter.
The fire was reported shortly before 8 a.m. The fire appeared to have started on a ground-floor apartment on the building's west side.
"When we got on the scene, we had a whole lot of smoke," Hunter said.
The seven people who were rescued were retrieved by firefighters on ground ladders, he said.
All eight apartments in the building were damaged, either by flames or smoke, Hunter said.
"One apartment is heavily damaged, and most of the apartments have doorways that are damaged," Hunter said. The American Red Cross planned to place residents in motel rooms. The Red Cross office in Winchester said 17 people were displaced by the fire.
Stephanie Ousley, 18, and Brandon Peacock, 22, were among those rescued. The couple lived on the second floor.
"We were asleep, and I woke up and it was really smoky," Ousley said. "I opened the window to get some air, and there were firemen everywhere. We had to get carried out." She packed a large gym bag with clothes and toiletries.