ELSIE, Mich. (WLNS) — Families are wondering what’s next after a fire tore through their apartments Monday, causing them to lose everything.

The Elsie Area Fire Department said they arrived to the 3000 block of South Hollister Road in Ovid and saw smoke billowing in the air.

People who lived at the complex say it was filled with joy, laughter — memories that are now charred.

“To watch it go up in flames like that, it just breaks my heart,” said Dylan Peru, whose unit was damaged by the fire.

Officials with the Elsie Area Fire Department report that the fire began around 6:30 p.m. on Monday. Upon arrival, fire crews were notified that all people were evacuated but not all of the animals.

Witnesses said, the response was almost immediate from across the area.

“We just sat there and watched it,” Irene Jonassen said. “And first was two or three engines, it ended up between ambulances, the rescue trucks, the fire engines, there was over 15 vehicles lined up here.”

Firefighters made several attempts to rescue all the dogs and cats in the building, some crewmembers were injured in the process.

Three firefighters received treatment from an on scene ambulance, with one of them being taken to a local hospital for minor injuries.

The family who lives in the unit reports losing eight animals total, and they aren’t sure where to go from here.

“I seen the smoke rolling from Elsie, and that’s a good four miles. I seen the smoke and I knew that was too close to where my house was,” said Dylan Peru, whose unit was damaged by the fire.

“I followed the fire trucks and I pulled into my yard, and I got a lot of family in the fire department and they said, ‘You can’t go in there, they’re gone.'”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, families said four units were damaged along with eight people affected.