Tenant describes evacuating the Kirk Apartments in Downtown Mason City

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(ABC 6 News) – The historic Kirk Apartments are barely standing after a massive fire that burned for hours Monday.

There were 44 units in the downtown building and those people are now all left with nothing.

Streets are still blocked off here around the apartments. The structure is still standing, but there are concerns it could fall. The Mason City Fire Department says the building did not have a sprinkler system, but a fire alarm system is credited with helping get everyone out safely.

“You never really think it’s going to happen to you,” Samantha Haugen said.

Haugen lived in the kirk apartments for nearly two years.
“When I came downstairs, the firefighters were already inside and the lights were cut and the whole bottom landing was obstructed with tubes. I had never seen such a thing. And I had the cat in my arms and I said ‘Can I get out?’ and they said ‘Yeah, get out.'”
Samantha and everyone else got out of the building safely.

“I hit the highway and I could see the smoke from my house which is 16 blocks north and I had no idea. I had never seen smoke like that it was worse than fog that I’ve driven in. I had to turn on my headlights,” Margaret Hutchens said.

Fire crews were at the scene all day Tuesday as the building continued to smolder.

Bystanders watching the fire line are devastated at the loss of such a historic building.

Jack Koci’s mother used to clean the Kirk Apartments many years ago and remembers its beauty quite fondly.
“It was an awesome building. All original oak wood it was really a nice building,” Koci said.

Many people lost everything, and Samantha isn’t sure what happens next.

“I don’t reckon they are going to ever let anyone go through the building,” Haugen said.

Investigators from the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting with the investigation.

It’s unclear how the fire started, but the fire chief said it started in a first floor apartment.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army and others are helping those who are now without a home.