It wasn’t the way Rick Tillman expected to ring in the new year.
Alarms started going off inside the Atlantic City rooming house where he lives at about 6:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve, so he grabbed his coat and ran.
“Everybody had to grab whatever,” Tillman said. “It was a nightmare.”
The fire began upstairs in a mattress in a third-floor bedroom at 1401 Memorial Ave.
Firefighters were able to work quickly to spare the rest of the building, Chief Scott Evans said.
“The place was 10 minutes from going all the way up in flames,” said Michael Scanlon Jr., who owns the building with his father. “The Fire Department, as usual, did an awesome job and saved the building and a lot of tenants’ property.”
While the fire damage was contained to one room, all 17 tenants had to be evacuated.
But Scanlon said he expects them to be able to return in a few weeks.
In the meantime, he worked with the Red Cross to make sure all of his tenants had a place to stay.
“At this point, I don’t know how long I’m going to be here,” Tillman said from a hotel Tuesday morning.
But he said he was grateful that his room was spared, and that Scanlon was helping, including bringing him food Tuesday morning.
“He made everything best as possible for us,” Tillman said.