A fire swept through an apartment complex in east Medford Monday afternoon, forcing evacuations and leaving the apartments uninhabitable, officials said.
The fire, reported at 2:28 p.m. at Rogue Chalet Apartments on Genessee Street, spread through all 10 units of the main building and heavily damaged at least eight apartments.
Medford Fire-Rescue had put out the fire and boarded up what's left of the two-story building as of Monday night. No injuries were reported in the fire, Medford Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Justin Bates said
The fire started in a downstairs apartment while the tenants were present, Bates said.
The tenants, who asked that their names not be used, said they had just stepped outside to work on their car parked in the lot behind the building. When they returned, "smoke was coming out of the windows then immediately turned into flame — it was that fast," one of the tenants said.
Fire investigators said they haven't determined the cause of the fire.
"It doesn't look like it was intentional or anything criminal at this point," Bates said. "It's most likely an accident."
The fire department and Medford police were able to get all of the tenants out safely, but the building suffered significant damage, Bates said.
"There were 10 families affected by the fire," Bates said. "Some of the tenants heard the smoke detector in the building and were able to get out and help their neighbors to get out safely. We are very thankful for that."
Six fire engines responded to the scene, Bates said. The Red Cross is working with the 10 families to find temporary housing.
"We have no injuries, but (the tenants) won't be able to get back in there for a while," Bates said.
Steve Thomas, who lived in an upstairs unit, said he was getting ready for football practice when he noticed smoke at 2:30 p.m.
"I was looking around to see if it was from my apartment," Thomas said. "As soon as I saw the heavy smoke from downstairs, I just grabbed my things and ran out. And the fire just started engulfing the whole thing. I'm pretty shaken up."
The tenants from the apartment where the fire started said they didn't know what they would do next, as they walked off holding an ash-covered plastic bin that held what's left of their possession.
"I don't know — Red Cross said it will help us with the funding or something," the tenant said. "I don't know what happened. I don't know what to do."
— Reach reporting intern Tran Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org.