About a dozen people had to be rescued early Sunday morning as a fire destroyed a Slidell condominium complex, according to an official with St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 1.

The fire started about 1 a.m. at the Act X condos in the 4500 block of Pontchartrain Drive.

A resident heard a loud explosion and opened the door to his unit to find smoke and flame, fire district spokesman Chad Duffaut said. The man called 911, as did another resident and a passerby.

Residents began knocking on doors to rouse their neighbors, and fire units were on the scene within five minutes.

As firefighters arrived, about 60 percent of the complex was in flames, and some residents were trapped on the second floor.

Duffaut said 37 people had been asleep in the 28-unit condominium complex, and most escaped on their own.

But a dozen people on the second floor of the two-story, 16,000-square-foot building — including children — had to jump from balconies to firefighters who caught them below, Duffaut said.

In an interview, he described the scene as “dramatic.”

No residents were injured, although one firefighter suffered minor injuries, he said.

The first floor of the building is elevated 5 feet off the ground.

The fire was brought under control in 90 minutes. The cause remains under investigation.

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