ROSSVILLE - A little after 5 a.m. Monday morning, Frankie and James Brodie awoke to their son banging on their bedroom door in the family's three-bedroom apartment.
A fire had broken out in the apartment across the hall in the bottom floor of Building D at the Woodland Apartments off Park City Road. Within minutes, witnesses said, the building was engulfed in smoke and flames.
"We couldn't see anything," James said of the smoke that filled the building as he was evacuating.
The Brodies and other tenants said that thanks to quick efforts from neighbors and emergency officials, no one was injured. Neighbors said there were 22 people living in the building.
Responders on the scene declined to comment, and officials could not be reached by phone Monday.
About 16 emergency vehicles from Rossville, Fort Olgethorpe and Hamilton County were at the complex when the fire was at its height, said Gary Huskey, a former maintenance worker and tenant of the complex who first arrived at the scene at 5:20 a.m.
"I was surprised when they called and said the building was on fire," he said. "You don't expect that phone call at 5 o'clock in the morning."
Fire crews were still working on the building, which appeared destroyed, late into the afternoon on Monday.
There were six three-bedroom apartments in Building D's three floors, and only five of the apartments were occupied, Huskey said.
Huskey said he only knew of one set of tenants that had renter's insurance.
The Brodies said they dropped their renters' insurance about eight months ago because they are fueling most of their income into their medical bills.
They had came back to the destroyed building at 4 p.m. Monday to see if they could if they could recover any of their prescription medication. The only items Frankie said the family got from the building as they were fleeing were a few family photographs.
"I got a few pictures out and that's it," she said.
As residents evacuated Building D Monday morning, so did those in nearby Building E.
Building E resident Richard Prior said the sparks from the fire were coming close to his building, and he and his neighbors were fearful it could also catch fire.
"It seemed like [firefighters] just couldn't get it out," he said. "It just kept going and going and going."
While the Brodies are staying with family, other displaced tenants are being put up in local hotels by the Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross. The organization is also providing them with hygiene items, clothing and any other basic supplies.
Chapter Executive Director Jac Whatley estimated that $5,000 worth of goods will be given to the fire's victims.
"This is the kind of thing we're here to do," he said.