Apartment fire leaves dozens homeless


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Derek Rasor

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE


Posted on July 4, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 4 at 6:33 PM

AUSTIN -- No celebration this Fourth of July for dozens of people left homeless by an apartment fire.  Flames tore through the City Point apartment complex early this morning. Investigators say improperly discarded smoking materials on a third floor balcony caused the fire that left many homeless.

As the sun starts to rise at six Thursday morning -- so do plumes of smoke over Central East Austin -- that could be seen for miles.

UT student Ian Parisi lived in building eight, right next door to the apartment where the fire started.

"I didn't know what to do," he said. "I barely had time to grab anything -- just my wallet."

As he raced out of his apartment. "I was coming out there and there was smoke all in my face, and I was coughing as I was running out."

"It looked like everybody was kind of in a daze," said Tje Alldredge. Alldredge is better known as Tje Austin of the indie band The Falling Giants and the Austin music scene. But on this day he was part of chaotic scene. Like Harris, Tje's apartment building was right next to the one on fire.

"I will admit, I was a little selfish," he said. "I was like, 'Oh God, what if it comes over to my building?' Then I kind of had to step back and think that there are actually people downstairs who have obviously lost everything."

People like Chris Goree who watched firefighters knock down the flames.

"It was bad," said Goree. "For some people it was really, really bad. Some people absolutely have nothing.

Goree is one of the dozens displaced by the fire. His residence for now is the Red Cross shelter at the Parker Lane Methodist Church.

"I've never been in a situation like that before, so I'm just trying to deal with it the best way I can," said Goree. "I really don't know how to deal with it, but I'm dealing with it."

No one was hurt in the fire. Investigators say fire damage was confined to the attic and a few third floor apartments, but the second and first floor units got smoke and water damage.

Damage estimates are $250,000 for the structure and another  $100,000 in contents.