UPDATE: Apartment fire displaces 18 families - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Apartment fire displaces 18 families

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CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB)  --  Eighteen Chattanooga families are displaced after an early morning apartment fire Monday.

"It was scary. I'm still spitting up black stuff from the smoke," says resident, James Ryan.

Ryan and his girlfriend were relocated to the Red Roof Inn after the blaze.

"About 3:30 this morning the smoke detector in my room went off," Ryan explains.

The couple lives on the second floor at Rustic Village Apartments. Like many of their neighbors, they were forced to wait on their balconies when they couldn't escape out their front door.

"Put my hand on it, it was hot," Ryan says.

The stairwell fire blocked the exit for many of the second floor residents.

Michah Mosier lives in the adjacent building.

"Well I came out on the porch, and they started to surround the place, cops knocking on balcony doors and all that," Mosier says. "Then they had to bring in the metal ladders and evacuated the top floor."

"It was very scary, especially that tall ladder," Ryan's girlfriend, Cathy Ivey says.

One-by-one, residents were helped down the ladder.

"They done their job very well. They helped me down and kept me calm. I was able to get out of there just fine," Ryan says.

The American Red Cross is assisting families displaced by the blaze.

While everyone made it out safely fire officials hope it serves as a reminder that every family should have two planned exits incase of an emergency.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Most of the smoke damage is in the hallway and stairwell of the complex.  

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