INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Steven Bledsoe is thankful this year is almost over.
He and his neighbors at Highland Pointe Apartments had a “very 2020” Thanksgiving, he joked.
Two fires tore through the north side apartment complex several hours apart, displacing approximately 70 residents for the holiday.
The American Red Cross opened a non-congregate shelter at a nearby hotel to support affected residents.
No injuries were reported in either fire, officials said.
The first fire, reported Wednesday around 9 p.m., was caused by electrical issues and damaged 44 apartment units.
The second fire, reported Thursday around 3 a.m., was possibly caused by electrical issues and damaged 12 apartment units.
Bledsoe was asleep when the second fire started in the third-floor unit directly across from his.
“Some guy – I don’t know who he was – he just started beating on everyone’s doors,” he said. “I’m in the middle of my sleep and I’m like, ‘Bro, what is you doing?’ He looked at me like, ‘Fire!'”
Suddenly wide awake, Bledsoe could see flames “literally like right there,” he said.
He stumbled through a haze of thick smoke and made it out of the building unharmed.
Vania Overton, another third-floor resident, fled to safety with her bible, purse and son when she realized her hallway had filled with smoke.
“We were both scared because this is something that you can’t prepare for at all. You don’t know what to do in the moment except to grab the most important things to you and leave,” she told News 8.
The experience capped off a year that reminded her to appreciate life and “the moments that you have,” she added.
Overton was able to return home for Thanksgiving but Bledsoe’s unit sustained smoke and water damage.
He remained upbeat when he returned Thursday afternoon to salvage his belongings.
“I’m not tripping off of it. I’m just thankful to be alive,” Bledsoe said. “Thankful for the dude that woke me up because I’d probably still be in there asleep right now. For real.”