Two fires in one night

By Amanda Porterfield |

Published 02/01 2014 10:59PM

Updated 02/03 2014 03:42PM

URBANA -- Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused two fires. The first was Saturday night on Philo Road. The second was on campus near Green and Gregory. Cold, snowy weather didn't stop firefighters from doing their jobs.

"I look out the back and the whole back of the building is on fire."

Like most people, Brandon Shepard made a mad dash to grab anything precious.

"I grabbed my children and got out, then tried to grab a few valuable things."

Firefighters believe it started near a water heater. They managed to put it out and save what they could, including several animals.

"I was in my apartment and I heard a ruckus. There were just flames billowing off of the balcony next to my apartment. It was outrageous."

Nine hours later, it was onto the next. At this campus apartment on Gregory, only a pet rabbit was home when the third floor balcony went up in flames.

Sam Cebular lives across the hall to the unit which burned.

"My heart was pumping a little bit. I was a little shaky, but I just got out of there as fast as I could."

A mattress on the balcony violated city code. While investigators can't quite say what caused it, they're not ruling out smoking materials which weren't thrown away properly.

"I was frightened. This is the first time I've ever been a part of something like this. Grabbed some essentials, but I did forget my pants. Yeah, I was pant-less for a little while."

Whether it's pants, people or pets, residents are just grateful firefighters were able to protect the important stuff, despite the weather.

"It was pretty close to my apartment. I am glad they got here pretty quickly and put it out."

"It's always nice to know that you all respond quickly when somebody is in danger, so I appreciate it."

One family was able to get help from the Red Cross and emergency services. The students stayed with parents and friends.

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