Residents of an apartment building in Reed City are devastated after their belongings were destroyed in a massive fire.

"At its highest, the flames were probably a good 20, 30 feet off of the top of the roof,” Gerry Shook said.

Shook, his wife, and his two kids woke up to what they thought was a nightmare - an inferno ripping apart everything in the apartment above them.

"I felt my wife get up out of bed. She saw some flickering outside the window and she went out into the hallway and saw through my son's window even more flickering. So, she opened up the front door and there was just billowing smoke,” Shook said.

Shook’s wife called 911 as he saved several priceless belongings. Their ceiling collapsed just minutes later.

"It was in the process as we were heading out the door. One of the things I made sure to grab was my late-grandfather's World War II medals. That was one thing I had to have,” Shook said.

Arthur Thayer lives directly across from Shook.

"At one point, you probably could have seen the flames from about a mile away on the road,” Thayer said. “We come outside and helped one of the little old neighbor ladies that was out here. She didn't know where to go. We brought her inside to stay warm and then I found the people that lived in the apartment that was on fire to make sure that them and their kids had got out."

Others began doing the same thing – helping everyone else.

"Some people were driving by and they saw the fire and they pulled in and started knocking on everybody's door to help get them out of the building,” Shook said.

Two family cats did not make it out and around 40 people lost everything.

Shook said in the end, that's better than the alternative.

“The fact that everybody in the entire building made it out safe, that matters more than any material item,” Shook said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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