Neighbors evacuated during fire slowly making their way back to their homes

CREATED Jan. 31, 2013

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BURLINGTON - People who live nearby the Echo Lake Foods fire in Burlington were forced to evacuate Wednesday night, but they were allowed back in Thursday.

More photos of the fire and aftermath

Neighbors are happy that no one was hurt. They said the sight of the flames, how high it burned and the sound of the fire taking over the building is something they won't soon forget.

“There was so much smoke you couldn't tell where exactly it was coming from,” said Kristi Kollman.

You can still see firefighters on ladders from Kollman's backyard.

“You could just see flames in the air it was awful,” she said.

The sight would that scare anyone.

“I was terrified,” she said. “Absolutely terrified.”

Kollman said she was afraid for her pets, and her grandmother who is on oxygen.

“I actually had to go out in my car and find an EMT because nobody was responding,” she said.

Kollman's grandmother had to be taken away by an ambulance because the smoke was so thick, and it was difficult to breathe. She was eventually taken to a hotel, and is okay. Kollman was worried about what she would find once she got home.

“Honestly, I thought that I would find my animals dead,” she said.

Fortunately, they survived. The family taped windows and doorways and closed off the fireplace before leaving to prevent any smoke damage.

“There were pieces of debris flying on our house and in the front yard,” Kollman said.

A lot of neighbors said they watched debris flying around all night.