LOCKLAND, Ohio - As soon as Lockland firefighters arrived at the apartment building at the end of Williams Street early Friday morning, they knew they were outgunned.
"We could have had a large loss of life," Lockland Fire Captain Sean Mesley said. "People would have been trapped and not be able to be rescued."
Fire crews called for mutual aid, but for Tia Bunn, time had already run out.
"They was telling her to stay in there and wait for a ladder," neighbor Amanda Helton said. "There's no way. It was coming through her apartment."
Helton and others dragged a mattress under Bunn's window and told her what she'd have to do to survive.
"They told us to jump," Bunn said. "We jumped."
Bunn wasn't the only resident in imminent danger, though. Several of her neighbors made the decision to jump from second and third floor windows to escape the flames.
They were unable to use the stairs because of a burning box spring that was blocking the only way out.
"As soon as we opened the door we saw the mattress on fire," Lee Ann Judd said.
David Mireck claims to be the owner of the burning box spring.
Mireck says he awakened to his box spring burning, and then attempted to put out the blaze with water.
What happened next sparked a three-alarm conflagration.
"I drug [the box spring] through my house, [where it] lodged in the hallway," Mireck said
As the flames grew, Mireck banged on residents' doors alerting them to the danger.
Firefighters say everyone got out alive, with one only jumper needing to be transported to University Hospital for medical evaluation.
Not all residents managed to escape on their own. Some residents were rescued by ladder trucks.
Friday morning, investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the fire.
Mireck says he's a smoker, but would not confirm whether he was lighting up in bed the morning of the fire.
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