DETROIT (WWJ) – Several people were trapped inside their second-story apartments after a fire took off in the retail space below in southwest Detroit.

The fire was reported early Friday morning at a brick building on Vernor Highway just east of Central Street. The building has four retail spaces on its lower level, with apartments on the upper level.

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The businesses were closed when the fire started, but the apartments were occupied. Firefighters quickly responded to the scene and rescued multiple residents who were trapped inside their homes.

A woman who only wanted to be identified as Sandra, said the flames were so thick, her sister was unable to get out on her own.

“The police got her out in time, so they took her to my house and I stayed behind,” Sandra told WWJ’s Mike Campbell. “But this building has been condemned for a long time. I used to live there three years ago and I’ve been moved from there. My sister stayed here though after her husband died… But everyone was just squatting up in there. That’s what it was, was a squat place for everybody.”

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Another resident, Chuck, said he was living legally in the building with his wife and sister-in-law. Chuck said the blaze might be suspicious, but he doesn’t know why someone who intentionally set the building on fire.

“For the most part, I haven’t had any problems since I’ve been here. If there was issues before I got here, I don’t know of them,” he said.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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(Credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ Newsradio 950)

(Credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ Newsradio 950)