Apartment fire causes $1 million in damage, leaves 18 homeless

Firefighters battle Southwest Austin apartment fire (Daniel Guerrero/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Eighteen people are homeless Tuesday after an early morning fire ripped through a three-story apartment building in South Austin.

The Austin Fire Department said it got several calls from the Landmark at Barton Creek apartments at 1781 Spyglass Drive around 3:42 a.m. from people reporting flames shooting out of Building 7.

Southwest Austin apartment blaze (Daniel Guerrero/KXAN)
Southwest Austin apartment blaze (Daniel Guerrero/KXAN)

Resident Kris Robles was sleeping when the fire started. “My roommate ran in, banged on my door open and told me the apartment complex was on fire.”

Robles and his roommate moved into the apartment complex just six months ago. He lost his father in December and says everything he had from him is now gone.

“Stuff that he left behind for me, and stuff that I won’t be able to find anymore…it’s hard,” he said.

When firefighters got there, they had to rescue a man who was hanging from a second-floor balcony. Crews were able to rescue him but once everyone was out they then had to stand outside in the cold. Even firefighters struggled to stay warm while battling the blaze.

“After it’s over, they’re wet and they’re dealing with low temperatures making them cold,” said Battalion Chief James Ash with the Austin Fire Department. “(The conditions are) very hard to work in and we have to rehab them more often.”

Southwest Austin fire (Sophia Beausoleil/KXAN)
Southwest Austin fire (Sophia Beausoleil/KXAN)

“Whenever I came out, I actually only had this jacket on and some athletic shorts,” said resident Hunter Buchmeyer. “I didn’t have shoes or anything,but everybody came together and gave us a place to get warm.”

The two-alarm fire was too dangerous for AFD crews to battle it from inside and they were forced to fight the flames from ladders, spraying water on top of the roof. Crews had it under control around 5:25 a.m.

AFD officials said Building 6 was evacuated as a precaution because embers were flying around. There was a major concern because of the lack humidity, high winds and the fact that Barton Creek backs up to the apartment complex.

Investigators said the blaze caused $1 million in damages, but fire officials are still uncertain where the fire started or what caused it. However, they do know that the fire alarm was pulled and was working.

The Red Cross is working with the people impacted by the fire. Firefighters said people will not be able to go back because the building is uninhabitable.

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