Austin shelter for apartment fire victims closes


by KVUE News

Posted on December 22, 2012 at 7:57 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 24 at 8:42 AM

AUSTIN  --  An Austin shelter is closing for dozens of families who lost their home to fire.
The fire broke out around 2:00 a.m. Thursday. Amazingly, everyone survived. Three buildings, 68 units, were destroyed.

Unfortunately, the families have now been displaced and many lost all of their belongings.

Laura Smiley, a paraplegic, lost her wheelchair while trying to evacuate.

"I fell out of my motorized scooter; it went back and crashed," said Smiley.

She also lost her van with a special lift. She didn't have insurance.

"I'm relying on the kindness of friends to help me with rides," said Smiley.

The Austin Disaster Relief Network heard about Smiley's story and hooked her up with a donor who gave Smiley a new motorized chair.

The Red Cross has helped victims find places to live temporarily. Thousands of dollars and donations have been pouring in since the tragic fire, just days before Christmas.

Firefighters say it's an important reminder for all of us to check our smoke detectors in our homes. 

A new state law will take effect Jan. 1. All rental properties are required to provide a battery-operated smoke detector in each room of the home -- something that could help keep you and your family safe.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.