AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some 14 people, nine of them children, had to evacuate a South Austin apartment building early Monday morning in subfreezing temperatures. A stairway at the SoCo Square apartments at 7310 South Congress Ave. caught fire around 12:45 a.m. An Austin Fire Department spokesman says the fire was out by 1:15 a.m.
EMS says a man suffered smoke inhalation and is now being treated at University Medical Center Brackenridge. EMS evaluated four others, who were later released. South Congress Avenue at Dittmar Road was closed while firefighters wrapped up their work, but it has since reopened.
An apartment manager says he believes the fire started with an unattended cigarette left in the stairway, but fire investigators have not confirmed that theory. Meanwhile, we’re also working to find out damage estimates.
One neighbor awoke to a frightening sound.
“I was really startled; it sounded like they were cutting into my house,” said Chad Pickney. “To wake up and see smoke — and I got cameras that monitor the property. So I saw right away on the cameras the flashing lights and everything — so, pretty scary.”
All of the people evacuated were able to return to their homes within a few hours, except the man who was hurt and a mother with three children in a neighboring apartment. The American Red Cross of Central Texas is helping the people whose apartments burned.
KXAN News will have live updates throughout the morning, from 4:30 a.m. through 7 a.m. and on KXAN News The CW Austin from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.