UNION, Miss. (WTOK) - It was around 3 a.m. Monday when the blaring sounds of smoke detectors inside Building C at Union Square Apartments woke up Christopher Griffith, and his wife, Heather.
Griffith opened the hallway door and saw the intense fire consuming the building. He tried to put out the fire himself, but it was too much to handle.
"After that, I got her out, told her to get outside. No sooner that I got all the other neighbors that was gathered around there up front, I got them across the parking lot. I said, 'you all have to get back, something's fixing to happen,'" said Griffith.
Seconds later, a huge explosion sent the complex up in flames.
"No sooner than I said it and turned around, it was like a bomb went off. Then maybe a few minutes later, boom, another hot heater exploded. It was like a chain reaction," said Griffith.
Six families were left with nothing except for the clothes on their backs.
"Very few things except for maybe our mobile phones, one of the little TVs, a charger and that was it. Except for maybe my wallet and it was soaking wet, but I was able to get that. But clothes gone, furniture and stuff like that; it's gone," said Griffith.
Word of the fire spread quickly, and the local community jumped into action. Nell Totten, and her husband, Hal, of Free N'Deed Ministries received a Facebook message of the devastating news around 4:45 Monday morning.
Without hesitation, the two changed their morning plans and opened the doors of their church.
"We are family and that's the way the church is supposed to be. We are supposed to be family. And if one person hurts, then we all hurt," said Totten.
Within hours, the two along with several other churches managed to find shelter, clothes, and food for each one of the victims. Local store boutique, Déjà Vu, let families pick out clothes free of charge to help them get back on their feet.
"Could've been anyone of us that woke up this morning and their house had burned down. Could've been me, could've been you, and I would hope that any church would open their door to me if it had been us this morning," said Totten.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
To help assist any of the six families, you may drop off any items to Free N’Deed Ministries in Union or Cornerstone Baptist Church in Meridian. You may call Totten at 601-504-4075 for a full list of items that are needed for each one of the victims. You may also contact the parish by its Facebook Page.