Residents urge proper fire planning after weekend high-rise fire

Residents urge proper fire planning after weekend high-rise fire

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The evacuation plan is credited with saving dozens of lives The evacuation plan is credited with saving dozens of lives
PEORIA, Ill (HOI) -- -

The man who died in Sunday evening's fire was Scott Urbanc, and County coroner Jamie Harwood ruled the preliminary cause death as smoke inhalation. 

The apartment's fire plan was to have all residents evacuate outside onto the nearby street corner - and it's that plan that they're saying saved many more lives. 

Resident Joseph Delinski, Jr. remembers what he saw on Sunday night: "Black smoke was just pouring out the windows, just as much as could be," he said. "And stuff was just...floating off, flying away."

"Everyone should have a fire plan," said property manager Kelly Gibson. "You really don't expect that to happen. It's not something you think about every day. It's when it happens that you've got the...shoulda, woulda, coulda." 

Though there has been one confirmed death, it could have been so much worse. Now the residents of Glen Oak Tower are coming together as a family, and asking for help to heal.

Apartment owners have been gathering in the lobby to talk and for support, everyone who lives here an extended family. 

"In here, yes, we are family," exclaimed resident Pamela Wiley. "We didn't realize it until, probably, Sunday that we were that close. Y'know, all the hugs, all the love that we were giving each other and from management...was real, was surreal."

Thomas Douglas, who lived in the apartment next to the fire, had some wise words for people who don't have a disaster plan in place:

"You need to get together with your family and have some sort of an escape route. Because fire, tornado...a tragedy is a tragedy."

Today was the first day people were let back into their apartments to look for anything that could be saved - but a lot of items have water or smoke damage. 

The apartment complex is accepting donations of spare clothes, towels, bedding, furniture - anything you can donate to help things feel a little more like home.

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