Holland Township firefighters determined the fire started when a resident was using a propane torch to remove a squirrel's fur. The person planned to eat the squirrel.
The fast-moving fire left a dozen families without a home.
The fire started at the Clearview Apartments off Riley Street at about 12:30 p.m.
Kellen Mouw and his wife escaped from the burning building with their two cats.
"We ripped apart the mattress and got them out," Mouw said.
The Holland Township and Zeeland fire departments battled the flames for two hours. Investigators said they believe it started on a third-floor patio.
"It appears a lot of the damage was exterior and went up into the attic," said Capt. Mike Veldheer of the Holland Township Fire Department. "It worked itself through the structure that way."
The American Red Cross is helping as many as a dozen families who lost their homes.
"If we need to provide food, shelter, clothing, we're going to try to help people with their immediate needs," said Mike Mitchell, executive director of the Ottawa County chapter of the American Red Cross.
"We just got married two months ago," Mouw said. "We have some sentimental artifacts in there and all our pictures."
Mouw and his wife are glad they're walking away with the most important things.
"(The two cats) got out safe, as did we, and that's all that matters," Mouw said.
No one was injured in the fire, authorities said.
There's no estimate yet on the damages caused by the fire. For now, the building damaged by the fire will be closed.