CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – Dozens of New Mexicans are without homes after a fire tore through their apartment complex.
"We didn’t really know what was going on until we saw smoke coming out the window, so everybody just took off running," said Dontrail Foster.
He says he was visiting a friend when the fire erupted.
"At the same time, my little cousin was sitting right there in the smoke, so I had to pull him out and we all just got out of the building,” said Foster.
In total, 46 people from 12 apartments were forced from their homes.
Firefighters said four of the apartments suffered extensive damage.
Officials say the fire began in a downstairs unit before going up and spreading throughout the building, taking firefighters about 10 minutes to put out.
“The proximity to that fire station and crews at that fire station even off-duty, they were able to have things ready and knocked down quickly,” said Clovis Fire Chief Mike Nolan.
The cause of the fire: a cat knocking over a candle.
Officials say the cat, which was a therapy pet for an autistic boy, didn’t make it out alive.
"We’re going to be working with the family to find some resources to help the child," said Curry County Emergency Management Director Dan Heerding.
No one was injured.
"I’m just glad no one was hurt and it’s really sad because people really lost their homes,” said La’Porcha Burks, who lived at the apartments.
The Red Cross is helping the families out with a place to stay, food and clothes.
Eight families should be able to return home Tuesday night.
"I was telling my grandma when I was helping her take her stuff out, ‘Today might be a mystery, but tomorrow is a blessing,’” said Foster.
The United Way has a fund set up to help out the families.