Updated 12:30 7/25/14

By: Melissa Randall

More than a dozen people were forced to climb to safety after their Fall River apartment building went up in flames early Friday morning. Everyone in the Robeson St. multi-family home made it out safe, thanks in part to the quick actions of a group of police officers and a good samaritan.

“Right away people started coming out the windows. Their primary way out was blocked by fire,” said Capt. Neil Furtardo of the Fall River Fire Dept.

The officers and a civilian were able to give the tenants a hand and get them to the ground. There were no injuries.

People living in two houses next door had to be evacuated. The flames were so intense they actually melted the siding. 16 people in all were sent out of their beds.

“You couldn't breathe. If you were outside you couldn't breathe. It was ridiculous,” said neighbor Bridgett Tanner as she described the air.

It was all hands on deck to get the flames under control. Nearly every piece of fire equipment owned by the city was there. The department was also forced to rely on surrounding communities for help due to recent job cuts.

“We laid our firefighters off. We can't do that to our city I care about my community,” said an emotional Ronald Cabral who is upset about staffing situation.

Investigators say the fire started on the first floor near the entry way. The cause is under investigation, but fire officials say it could take a while to get answers. There is a lot of debris to sift through.

The building will likely have to come down.

© WLNE-TV 2014

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