Manitowoc fire survivors sheltered in junior high gym

Parkview Haven Apartments in Manitowoc, May 11, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

MANITOWOC (WLUK) -- More than 80 people are figuring out what to do next, after a fire at a Manitowoc apartment complex called Parkview Haven.

Police say one woman, 57-year-old Dana Bushman, didn't make it out of the smoke-filled building.

Survivors shared their ordeal, including one woman, who says she tried to save Bushman.

A tearful reunion for friends Rose Fichtner and Kay Konecny brought closer together by a deadly fire on Wednesday.

"I hollered 'fire.' It's not a drill. It's a fire, It's real. Everybody thought it was just a drill, and I kept hollering no, it's not. Not it's not. You gotta get out now," said Rose Fichtner of Manitowoc.

Fichtner lived next door to the victim, 57-year-old Dana Bushman. Investigators believe the fire started in Bushman's apartment.

"Scary as hell. really scary. And then when I got over to her door, I seen the door melting. And I knew she didn't make it. But I couldn't leave her, and I had to," she said.

Fichtner says she knocked on as many doors as she could. Konecny was asleep, and heard the fire alarm. The system was upgraded just this week to alert the dispatch center as well.

"Most people were out. I was stuck on the third floor, panicking. My son was downstairs, outside looking for me. and I was screaming out the window, help, I'm still in here," said Kay Konecny, Manitowoc.

Konecny says she tried to walk outside.

"I started to go towards the door, and I took a left into the smoke, instead of taking a right, down the steps," she said.

Konecny ended up in the hospital with smoke in her lungs. Fichtner says she called 9-1-1. The dispatcher told her to get out of the building.

"I got out. and I kind of collapsed in the backyard. My doctor found me on the ground. I was in the hospital for inhalation, smoke damage. I never want to have to do it again," said Fichtner.

And Thursday night, a Manitowoc school is serving as temporary shelter for some of the displaced.

Of the 88 residents, around 30 are staying in the gym of Wilson Junior High School about 4 blocks away.

The Red Cross is hoping to find living arrangements within a week.

For now, the school has added extra security so students and staff remain safe and classes can remain in session.

Community members are also offering support.

"Because we're a small community, and we're here to help. Just feel really bad for all of them there. That they don't have anything now," said Dee Dee Moore, Manitowoc.

The Salvation Army of Manitowoc County is also collecting donations for those displaced by the fire.

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