PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – Residents of the Clover Leaf Apartments are reeling from a weekend fire that engulfed one of their buildings. Now, neighbors are working to gather donations to assist the displaced families. 

Resident Dakota Gladney says she was woken up around 3 a.m. to the sound of loud knocking at her door. She had just fallen asleep when she was woken up by a police officer saying the building was on fire. Gladney scrambled to evacuate with her two cats and dog. 

She wasn’t prepared for what she saw outside. 

“As we’re gathering the animals we could see through the balcony window….   it looked like the sun was up, with how bright it was,” Gladney said. 

Flames completely engulfed the building beside hers. She stood outside with her roommate and pets, watching in horror. 

Eight apartment units were up in flames – seven families’ homes, destroyed. 

On Monday she showed News 3 the remains. 

Entire bushes were burnt into a pile of sticks. Leaves of nextdoor buildings were singed by the flames. Remnants of life before the fire stood out in the rubble, such as clothes on a drying rack and a treadmill. 

Though the flames were contained, a day later, the smoke detector for the burnt building continues to beep; an eerie sound for residents as they work to process the horrors of that night. 

For Gladney, the stress of that night was exacerbated by the fact that she recently found out she was pregnant. She says she is grateful she escaped with her and her baby’s life – but feels deeply for the families whose lives were turned upside down. 

“You know these seven families that were living in this building… they lost everything,” Gladney said. “They could’ve lost their lives and I’m glad that they made it out… they lost their clothes, their livelihoods, you know anything that was important to them… memories…”

Gladney says she put together a GoFundMe for those displaced families. The apartment management is accepting donations at their front office starting on Tuesday, May 31.