DETROIT (freep.com) -- Residents jumped from windows as flames engulfed a three-story apartment complex Wednesday morning on the 21000 block of Jason near Schoolcraft and Outer Drive on Detroit's west side.
Some residents are unaccounted for, and three remain in area hospitals receiving treatment for injuries from jumping out of the three-story building, said Detroit Police officer Jennifer Moreno.
Firefighters rescued about 25 people from the blaze, which began shortly after 6 a.m. at the Jason Manor Apartments.
Four people were taken from the scene by ambulance and three were treated on-scene for minor injuries. A school bus was brought to the scene to give residents a makeshift shelter from the sub-freezing temperatures.
Detroit Fire Capt. Pat McNulty said it is estimated that between five and seven residents are still unaccounted for. He said fire officials have to wait for the smoldering to subside before they can determine the cause of the blaze and search for missing people.
The blaze started after officers responded to a call about an alleged rape at the building, police confirmed.
Moreno confirmed that police responded to an alleged rape and the 19-year-old female victim is hospitalized. She said police haven't found indications the two events were connected.
A source familiar with the investigation said the woman called police at about 3 a.m. saying she had been raped by four men in an apartment during a birthday party. The woman was transported to a local hospital and officers went to the apartment, but no one answered, the source said.
McNulty said: "We're looking into a connection between that and the fire."
No one has been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault, police said.
At the fire's peak, the flames were so massive that embers blew into the freeway.
Detroit Fire Commissioner Jonathan Jackson said the fire started on the north side of the apartment building.
Jackson said the building is a total loss. There were 42 units, 39 of which were occupied.
Ellery Taylor, 52, woke up to make coffee when he saw the smoke coming from under his door. The fire grew so quickly that he found himself taking the screen off his apartment window.
"I heard a lady say, 'Jump if you have to, jump if you have to,'" he said, then he jumped. "It happened so quick. Everybody jumped."
Taylor said that thousands of dollars worth of his belongings were lost, including his Bible, medications and wallet.
Firefighters rescued Amber Mickles, 22, from her third-story unit shortly before it burned down to the bricks. She'd worried she might have to jump, but rescuers arrived within minutes, she said.
Doug Woodcock, who works at Universal Weatherstrip and Building Supply, said people gave shoes to residents who escaped the blaze.
Shaun Damiani, who also works there, said they've previously noticed a "lot of disturbances," such as domestic violence, at the complex, and it's not unusual to see police cars outside a couple times a month.
They stood watching the firefight as traffic blocked access to businesses.
"I can't believe it went up that quickly," Woodcock said.