Christmas Day fire displaces dozens at northwest Austin apartment complex

Several fire crews battled a second alarm apartment fire in northwest Austin on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (Photo: Austin Fire Department)
Several fire crews battled a second alarm apartment fire in northwest Austin on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. (Photo: Austin Fire Department)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dozens of people remain evacuated from a northwest Austin apartment complex Monday afternoon following a fire that damaged or destroyed a dozen units.

At about 9:30 a.m., fire crews responded to the Hendrix Apartment complex in the 9800 block of Copper Creek Drive just east of US 183 and north of Anderson Mill Road.

This Christmas morning was about priorities. With just seconds to act, Edward Santiago picked up his cat.

“She’s been with me thick and thin, and I’m glad that I’ve managed to get her,” said Santiago, holding his cat in case as he walked away from the fire.

Kane Northrup grabbed his important paperwork.

“We packed up everything. It didn’t hit us, but we packed up everything just in case,” he said. “Better safe than sorry.”

Half of Building 9 in the Hendrix Apartment complex went up in flames, damaging or destroying 12 of its 24 units.

“Priority No. 1 is to make sure all the occupants are out, and that’s what we did,” said Jolleyville Fire Department Chief John Kiracofe.

His department took the lead, and he told KXAN that, at first, firefighters tried to knock the fire down from the inside. When it became too dangerous, they attacked the flames from outside, pumping water from hydrants to spray down from ladders above.

“These apartments are very tight quarters with vehicles parked [nearby], so maneuvering large apparatus into position where we can effectively fight the fire is always a challenge,” said Chief Kiracofe.

Volunteers from the Red Cross say every person is alive and accounted for. But they don’t expect anyone to re-enter building 9 until after they finish the investigation. That will take some time.

AFD tweeted that the same complex also suffered a major fire in December 2012.

 

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