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Repairs of building expected to take 2 months

Posted at 8:31 AM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 09:38:44-05

Yi Xiaoge was sleeping when a fire alarm started blaring in his Chandler Crossings apartment.

He looked out the window. Burning chunks of his building were falling to the ground.

"Fires, and I don't know if it's paper or something, dropping down from upstairs," Xiaoge said.

He ran out with nothing but his wallet and the pajamas on his back.

"I just see the second floor and third floor burning," he said.

That's the same scene East Lansing Deputy Fire Chief Troy Brya arrived at.

"It was on the balconies when I pulled up, and I could see smoke coming from the eaves and through the peak vents of the attic," he said. "So we knew it was already extended up in there."

The fire took hours to put out, in part because the wind drove the flames to other areas of the building.

"It started to get away from us a little bit," Brya said. "Fortunately, with the mutual aid response that we received, we were able to keep it contained."

He said the fire had started to crawl through the attic space, but fire fighters were able to stop it from making it to the other half of the building.

Thanks to smoke detectors and fire alarms, everyone made it out safely.

Brya says at this point it's impossible to say what started the fire.

"Could have been a grill out here, could have been a lot of different things," he said.

The Red Cross and Chandler Crossings are helping find places for the 60 or so people displaced.