Highland, Ill. (KSDK) -- A fire that forced nine families from their homes caused a Madison County community to come together to rally around the victims.

And now, since a storefront along Main Street wasn't exactly being used as of Tuesday, when the fire started, it's now a drop-off site for everything from coats to cleaning productsas donations for the fire victims.

Firefighters tellNewsChannel 5 thatit was around noon Tuesday when two people in the apartment building along the 1200 block of El Kay Court were carrying out an old, dried-up Christmas tree. One of them was smoking a cigarette, and somehow it ignited the tree, while they were in a common area in the building. The fire spread quickly, destroying the entire 18-unit complex. Only half were occupied.

Four residents were transported to the hospital, but are now said to be doing just fine.

Immediately after, the folks in Highland started collecting goods for those affected, and the efforts were so successful that organizers say they don't need anymore.

"It's great," said Bill Onofrey, the paramedic supervisorat the Highland Fire Department. "It's the kind of community that Highland is. When something bad happens everybody's right there to help out their neighbors."

To learn how to help by making monetary donations, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767) or visit

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