Four families were displaced Thursday by a fire that apparently began in a juniper bush just after 5:30 p.m. and quickly engulfed the six-unit complex on the northeast side of town.
Karen Arreguin, 11, said she and her brother were sitting outside their apartment at 210 David St. when she noticed smoke coming out of a nearby bush.
"I yelled to my mom that something was burning, and then my mom said to everyone to get out," said Karen.
Within minutes, the smoke had burst into flames, racing up the exterior of the building and engulfing the second floor rooms in at least two of the apartments.
Karen's father, Salvador Arreguin, said he raced back into the burning building to shut the doors and windows on his home in a failed attempt to keep the fire outside.
When he disappeared inside, Deputy Rick Encinas thought for some time that Arreguin never made it out. He did however, running out the back door.
"Man, I don't know how he got in there because it was too hot for me," Encinas said. He estimated the heat kept anyone from getting closer than 25 feet to the building.
"When I got here, all across the front of the building was on fire," said Encinas, who was the first officer on scene. "Even in the back, the smoke billowing out was so heavy, there was no way to get inside to get anyone."
Onlookers told officers there also might be someone inside one of the apartments, said Encinas, but it was later determined that tenant also ran out the back of the building. Two other units in the complex were vacant and the third tenant was not home at the time.
Pablo Garcia was in his apartment with his children when his brother yelled from outside.
"He said, 'Hey, everybody come out,' so I grabbed my kids and came out," said Garcia, standing in the street with his 12-year-old daughter Marcela and 11-year-old son Santiago.
Carson City Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski said the Red Cross was called to assist the families with accommodations for the night.
The building was declared uninhabitable.
The fire is under investigation.