A fire drill a week ago at Park Manor apartments in Montgomery helped make for an orderly exit Saturday evening when a fire ravaged the 41-unit complex.

The 43 residents escaped without injury. Three firefighters sustained minor injuries fighting the blaze, which started at 4:30 p.m. on the second floor.

“We had just an amazing outpouring of help from the community,” said City Administrator Steve Helget. “People just pulled up with their personal vehicles and brought people to City Hall.”

The Red Cross housed one person at a local hotel and the rest of the residents, after spending time in the Council Chambers, were taken in by relatives or friends. The state fire marshal was at the scene investigating the cause of the fire Saturday night.

A portion of the roof on the three-story building collapsed, Helget said.

The complex, built in 1969, was a HUD facility for lower income residents.

“It was a very attractive building. We’d done a lot of upgrades on it over the years. It was one of the nicer places in town. It’s going to be a place we’ll miss,” Helget said of the building owned by the local Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

He said there were families with children and many elderly residents at the complex.

“That was one of the frightening things, that there were a lot of elderly residents. The fire department just had a fire drill there last week and it went really well, so it probably helped tonight when there was a real fire.”

Helget said a fire alarm in the building went off, triggering an alarm at the county’s 911 dispatch center. “We had a fantastic response. All the firefighters were there in about five minutes.”

Firefighters and ambulances from neighboring communities, including Kilkenny, New Prague and Northfield assisted.

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