Residents displaced by Pico Rivera fire get help at nearby shelter

EMBED </>More Videos

Residents impacted by the Pico Rivera apartment fire talked about the chaos they saw and how they're going to have to rebuild their lives. (KABC)

Residents impacted by the Pico Rivera apartment fire talked about the chaos they saw and how they're going to have to rebuild their lives.

No one expected the intense flames to spread so quickly and destroy dozens of apartments in the 9100 block of Burke Street.

At least 141 apartment units were affected by the blaze, leaving about 300 residents evacuated from their homes.

"Smoke all through the hallways. People were running through hallways banging on doors. I ran inside and grabbed what I could get," Matthew West said.

While West waited outside at a nearby complex, other evacuees found shelter at an auditorium in Rivera Park.

"We had a big knock on our door and the sheriff told us to get out, get out," Rachel Cervantes said.

She explained how she and her extended family moved fast to flee.

"As soon as we opened the door, the smoke started coming into our apartment. We didn't have time, we didn't know what to do. We just grabbed our dogs and got out of there," she said.

The Cervantes' dogs - Winston and Gordo - are both safe and staying with Rachel's in-laws. Their apartment complex allows pets, but it's left many neighbors worried.

One woman's husband jumped in to help get animals out.

"My husband actually went and got one of our neighbor's dogs and got them out of the apartment. We're just praying that everybody's animals are safe," Renae Pivarao said.

Rachel's nephew kept a mask on because of the heavy smoke nearby.

"I still kind of don't believe it because when they first evacuated us I thought it was a small apartment fire that they would put out real quick. But when I went outside and smelled the smoke, I realized how big it was," Aaron Lopez said.

In the shelter, dozens of donations were already piling up for the displaced residents. If you would like to donate, you can head to the Rivera Park Recreation Center after 9 a.m.

Some items still needed are sample-sized hygiene products, canned food, and scarves and hats since it's still cold outside.
Related Topics:
apartment firefireshelterdonationsPico RiveraLos Angeles County
(Copyright ©2018 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)