At least six fire companies responded Saturday afternoon to an apartment fire that was reported about 3:20 p.m. at Londontowne Apartments in the 500 block of Bentley Court near Hagerstown.
Eric Fraley, deputy chief of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., said the fire was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
"I saw heavy fire and heavy smoke," Fraley said. "People were running everywhere."
Fraley said around 4:05 p.m. that he was getting ready to go into the apartment building to assess the damage and possibly determine the cause.
Fraley said there was smoke and water damage to the apartment where the fire started and water damage to the apartment below. There also was smoke damage to the apartments on both sides, he said.
Firefighters were using a chain saw to cut into the roof of the two-story brick structure, and four ladders were running up to four separate second-story windows.
Firefighters had a ladder from a firetruck extended to the roof and were entering the building through the front door.
There still was smoke coming from the windows and roof, but no sign of flames.
Sara McCall, the occupant of the apartment where the fire started at 516 Bentley Court, said she wasn't home at the time the blaze started.
"I was out running errands and I came home to this," McCall said. "I opened the door and it was nothing but smoke."
McCall, who was busy Saturday helping Trinity Lutheran Church in Smithsburg prepare for a Christmas event, said several family members and friends offered her a place to stay.
"I feel blessed in that manner," McCall said.
McCall added that she felt bad for her neighbors who were affected by the fire.
Jim Slick of 506 Bentley Court said he lives beneath the apartment where the fire started.
"My wife was sleeping and I was playing video games," Slick said. "I heard people beating on doors telling everyone to get out."
He said he and his wife, Jeanette, grabbed their bulldog, cat, her purse and his wallet and got out of the building.
"I'm just glad everyone's OK for the most part," said Slick, noting the fire spread rapidly through the upstairs apartment.
At 4 p.m., firefighters had yellow tape hanging near the parking lot to keep people away from the scene.
The fire marshal's office was on the scene.