Residents searching for new homes after Austin apartment fire

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 1 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Flames ripped through a building at the Promontory Point Apartments Thursday night. Some residents heard an explosion about the time the fire broke out. A firefighter injured his leg when he fell from the attic to the third floor.

Fire officials say combustible material was put too closely to a water heater, causing the blaze. The fire started in a third floor apartment in building 10, which is in the back of the complex. Fire officials say the damage is so severe that people may not ever get the chance to step inside and see what's left.

Ajante Baltrip says her cat, Yuri, is one of the only things saved from her apartment.

"I don't have any clothes except for what I have and what I was able to buy at Walmart," she said.

Baltrip says she wasn't home at the time of the fire, but it didn't take long for her to realize something was going on at the complex.

"You could see the smoke clouds from 183 and 290, pulled up and fire trucks were everywhere," she said.

Investigators say the fire started on the third floor and worked its way up to the attic. What's left is charred brick and smoke damage. The damage is so extensive they say the building will have to be demolished, and it's not safe for people to go in.

"We dont know if were going to get people much of their stuff back," said a spokesperson for the Austin Fire Department.

The Red Cross is working to find people a place to stay. Since many of them weren't home Thursday night, calls for assistance are still coming in.

"This is a process that takes some time," said Sara Kennedy with the Red Cross.

Apartment management has allowed residents to stay temporarily in vacant units at the complex and at their sister complex.

Baltrip says she spent the night in a temporary apartment worrying about her belongings and her pets.

"I came out here about four this morning, and they still had not seen my cat," Baltrip said.

But luckily, one of the firefighters heard something inside the apartment and underneath Baltrip's couch was a scared and wet Yuri.

"They say cat's have nine lives," she said.

Cat in hand, Baltrip says, thankfully, she only lost material things, and now it's time to search for a new home

One firefighter was injured in the fire. He hurt his knee when he fell through the attic to the third floor. He is expected to be ok.

Fire officials also tell KVUE that smoke detectors were working in the building, however they didn't go off because most of the smoke was confined to the attic and vented out through the roof.

The damage is estimated at $1.2 million for the structure and $400,000 for everything inside.

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