North Myrtle Beach apartment fire closes portion of South Ocean Blvd.

Three people were hospitalized and nine people are looking for a place to stay after a fire at an apartment building in the 800 block of South Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach, according to city spokesman Pat Dowling.

Michele Chavis was first to notice the fire about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. She says she woke up thinking someone had turned the heat up and then noticed all the smoke. She began banging on her neighbors' doors to warn them. She said before she knew it flames were showing from the building. She and her two roommates lost pretty much everything.

"It was just like a big whoosh," said Chavis' roommate Patricia Cartier. "It was like a fireball. It just rolled out."

Wednesday afternoon, Cartier, Chavis and their other roommate Pam Stevers picked up what few things they could salvage.

"Material things are material things. They can be replaced," said Stevers.

While the material things plan to be replaced, the loss that hurts the most is the loss of their two cats.

"I know they're animals, but they were family," said Stevers. "We were trying to find them, but we couldn't find them because they were hiding."

"I have that heavy feeling that maybe I could have done something else," said Cartier.

The three said even though they've lost so much, they're still thankful they will be able to move on.

Members of The Red Cross' Disaster Action Team are meeting with the families to provide them with food, clothing and shelter.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.