Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - It's never an easy phone call to get—to hear that the place you've come to call home is on fire.
In fact, for those involved, it can be one of life's more traumatic experiences.
1st floor Hillcrest Apartment resident Emma Pahjola was just finishing showering after a visit to the gym when she said she heard the alarm.
Pahjola said—at first—she wasn't concerned.
"So, I grabbed my keys and my phone and left, and quickly found out it was real," said Pahjola, still wearing a towel in her hair.
Pahjola—along with other residents on scene—said this was unexpected, as the near–century old, 40–unit apartment has had no
history of issues—from electric to structure quality.
Still, something—that seemingly began on the 2nd floor, in apartment 210, the residence of a single gentleman—started the blaze, which spread quickly to the 3rd floor, engulfing the apartment above.
5 month resident Malory Schaefbauer—who lives in apartment 310, directly above the fire's origin—said she received the dreaded call while at work: "...and [he] just said, 'there's been a fire, your things might be in danger. You know, you might want to try and get here,' and that's what we did."
Schaefbauer, who—at the time—was not allowed to enter her apartment, said she was expecting the worst.
"I don't have much hope for my things, so at that point you just—there's no point in being upset. You just figure it out as it comes," said Schaefbauer, somberly.
Authorities have not confirmed what started the fire, but they say a cigarette may have been involved.
"If it was, I wish he would have been more careful. If you're going to do things that are going to possibly endanger other people's lives, you should take the necessary precautions to make sure you don't," said Schaefbauer.
Still, not all hope was lost. Schaefbauer's cat, Fay, was rescued before the blaze consumed everything: "So, they rescued her, and the neighbors across the hall took care of her until I was able to get here. So, yeah, she's had a very traumatic morning."
...finding a silver lining in the wake of such a tragic event.
Authorities have not yet determined the cost of damages from the fire.
Investigation is still underway.