South side fire leaves 16 people looking for new home

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 23, 2016) —A fire at a south-side apartment complex Saturday morning left 16 people looking for a place to sleep, according to IFD spokeswoman Rita Reith.

The fire started shortly after 1:00 a.m. Saturday at the Dakota Ridge Apartments, 1510 Dakota Ridge Drive, and caused an estimated $500,000 in damages, according to IFD Battalion Chief Howard Stahl.

Crews battled the blaze and elements for more than an hour and got the fire under control around 2:30 a.m. Eight units are a complete loss and another four have smoke and water damage, according to Dakota Ridge employee.

“We loved it here. This was our home," Dakota Ridge resident and fire victim Seth Chambers said.
Chambers moved into the complex with his fiance, Stormie Coers. They plan to get married in October.

"This is going to set us back a little bit," Chambers said.

The couple was smoking cigarettes outside until around 12:30 a.m., Chambers said. They went to bed and then woke up to a "pillar of fire," on their balcony.

"I saw fire in the window," Chambers said. "The light woke me up.”

He then tried to put the fire out, but was unsuccessful. The couple then tried gathering their animals and alerting other neighbors about the blaze.

"Usually when somebody says fire you think a little smoke, nothing major, but I opened the door and it was just a huge gust of smoke in my face," Dakota Ridge resident and fire victim Josh Gabbard said.

The complex required residents to have renters insurance and employees said anyone who wants to will be able to relocate to another unit.

Chambers doesn't know what his next move is, but said he will always remember the image that woke him up Saturday morning.

“It’s hard for me to sleep in the light in the first place, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to again," Chambers said. "As soon as I see light I’ll just wake up now.”