This article has been updated to reflect the most recent reporting.
A fire started in Building 12 of the Carriage Hill Apartment Complex at about 4 p.m. Sunday, displacing residents in all 30 units.
One person was treated for smoke inhalation, said Stephanie Tresso, a spokeswoman for Wallick Communities, the company that owns the apartment complex. The building sustained major water and smoke damage, and the fire burnt away the roof.
Building 13 was evacuated, but fire crews were able to stop the blaze from spreading to it, Athens Fire Chief Rob Rymer said.
Waterloo Fire Department, Richland Area Fire Department and York Township Fire Department also responded to the scene.
Smoke settled in a haze around the area. People stood outside wrapped in blankets and holding pets.
Arwa Ayiq and her three daughters watched the fire burning from a picnic table nearby. Ayiq’s husband saw smoke outside while she was in the shower.
“Everything’s gone,” she said. “I didn’t take anything. Everything is in there.”
Though officials said all of the people escaped safely, some people’s pets were left inside.
Cherikee Ray has lived in her apartment on the second floor for three years. Her brother was home at the time, and told her the flames spread too quickly for him to grab her cat. But a window in her apartment was open.
“We’re praying that maybe she jumped,” she said.
Ohio University opened Baker University Center to provide a “warming center” to people displaced by the fire. Tresso said the Red Cross distributed hotel vouchers to residents of Building 12.
Officials were unsure how the fire started. Rymer said it started near unit 1213 and spread to consume the building. The Ohio State Fire Marshal will investigate the fire, but Rymer said that the investigation could take weeks to conclude.
Rymer said the department would remain for most of the night. Although the fire was out at about 8 p.m., the building smoldered and hot spots sometimes burst into flame.
A donation collection station for those affected by the fire has been set up on the fifth floor of Baker Center.
Correction: A previous version of a photo caption incorrectly stated the number of buildings the fire destroyed. Only one building caught fire. The caption has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.