A carelessly discarded cigarette may have sparked a fire that forced the evacuation of an entire apartment complex Monday night.

The Edgerton Fire Department responded at 11:18 p.m. to a structure fire at 123 N. West St., with mutual aid from the Bryan and Butler, Indiana, stations, but local police were first on the scene.

“Two Edgerton police officers had the building evacuated (11 residents from seven apartments) before we got there,” Edgerton Fire Chief Scott Blue said. “They were all out front.

“When we got there nothing from the front indicated fire, but behind the building, fire was just running up the wall from a window in the upstairs apartment.

“Two of our guys ran up for a quick peak and it was just cooking,” he said. “They stuck a nozzle through the front door and blasted the couch, which was the main culprit. We didn’t use more than a thousand gallons to put it out. It was a quick knockdown but there was a lot of work afterward. We had to cut some holes to check for extensions in the attic.

“Heat, smoke and water really wrecked the apartment, probably at least $50,000 damage,” Blue said. “Dry wall, plaster, wiring — a lot of stuff will have to be fixed.

“The two ladies who live there are staying with a neighbor in the same building,” he said. “The lady and her baby who live below that went to stay with family. There was just too much water seeping down. Red Cross is assisting all of the families affected by the fire.”

The cause remains unknown but Blue said he suspected “careless smoking” and called for the state fire marshal’s office to investigate.

Williams County EMS also responded but no injuries were reported.

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