AUSTIN -- In a matter of minutes, flames consumed Building Eight of the City Point Apartments in Central East Austin; making this a Fourth of July UT student Ian Parisi won't soon forget.
"I was coming out, there was smoke all in my face and I was coughing as I was running out," Parisi said.
The three alarm fire tore threw the attic and third floor. Austin Fire Department officials say an improperly discarded cigarette is to blame.
Dalia Ornelas says the blaze started on her patio, when neighbors threw their cigarette butts into her trash can.
AFD officials say the fire caused $350,000 worth of damage and left 50 people homeless.
"I didn't know what to do. I barely had time to grab anything, just my wallet," Parisi said.
"All of it. The furniture, dishes, clothes, everything. I need help," added Ornelas.
Austin churches are listening. The Austin Disaster Relief Network, a group comprised of local churches, and C-3, Christian Compassion Center, have opened a warehouse oat 7000 Cameron Road in Austin to take donations.
"Though it might not be as big of a scale as some disasters, to some of these families it is significant," said Austin Disaster Relief Network Associate Director Stephen Brewer.
Organizers say because the fire happened on the holiday, donations have been slow coming in, still they're confident that the community will step up.
"A heartfelt community that shows up and gives a little bit here and little bit there, but all of it collectively can make a big difference in the lives of these people," added Brewer.
Volunteers hope to fill the warehouse with household items, couches and beds; the things fire victims will need to start over.
If you would like to make a donation, or if you are a victim who needs help, the C3 warehouse will be open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.