LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Liz Trokey says it’s a lucky thing a fire that broke out at her senior apartment complex on Wednesday didn’t start any later than it did.

“It was like an hour before my nap time,” she told CBS4. “If I had been napping, I never would have woke up, because when I take a nap, I’m out.”

Trokey, 81, says the emergency stairs weren’t an option when the fire alarms started sounding in her apartment on the fourth floor of the Southview Place Towers. That’s where the fire started just before noon and quickly spread.

Liz Trokey (credit: CBS)

Liz Trokey (credit: CBS)

“I’m just panicking, thinking ‘Omigod,'” said Trokey, who uses the elevator and can’t easily get up and down stairs.

Instead, she quickly came up with a backup plan and headed for her balcony.

“Someone below told me ‘Close your balcony door,’ which I did and it was a good thing because that smoke was just filling the apartment,” she said.

Littleton’s emergency response to the fire included 12 fire trucks, 10 ambulances and 75 firefighters. One of those firefighters spotted Trokey and quickly got a ladder to that floor.

Trokey says she told the firefighter “I’m not going down that ladder!”

“And he said ‘You are. You have to,'” she said.

Southview Place Towers (credit: CBS)

Southview Place Towers (credit: CBS)

The smoke had not only engulfed her apartment, but it had spread through the entire building.

One resident said there was “black smoke, going through the hallways.” Another described it as “sudden chaos.”

The fire wound up destroying Trokey’s apartment. In addition to ruining her possessions, she also lost her bird.

Nearly 100 people were displaced by the fire, and many found themselves in situations like Trokey’s where they had to be aided by rescuers. Denise Barry’s mother was one of those.

“If somebody hadn’t come to help her I don’t know what she would have done,” Barry said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Representatives with the American Red Cross set up a shelter for displaced residents at the Littleton United Methodist Church at 5894 South Datura Street. On Thursday the church shared the following note on Facebook:

“So many people have been calling asking how they can help with the Red Cross shelter and its residents… immediate needs right now are new mens & womens underwear (all sizes) and new socks. If you have any new crossword puzzle/word puzzle books or magazines, those would be great as well. Bring items to the front office.”

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