Texas Apartment Complex Fire Displaces 16 Seniors

March 5, 2013
A two-alarm blaze caused $400,000 in damage to a Southwest Austin apartment building, displacing 16 residents.

March 04--An overnight fire at a Southwest Austin apartment complex displaced 16 people and caused $400,000 in damage, an official said.

The two-alarm blaze broke out at 1:59 a.m. on the third floor of an independent living apartment complex for senior citizens at 2422 Western Trails Blvd., said Austin Fire Battalion Chief Thayer Smith.

No injuries were reported, Smith said.

A female resident at the complex near the Westgate shopping center and U.S. 290 woke up to the smoke alarm and alerted other residents to evacuate, Smith said.

"The big deal here was the smoke detector did work and alerted the occupant," Smith said. "It's another case where the smoke detector probably saved some lives."

The fire came amid what turned out to be a busy night for firefighters in the far South Austin area. Another fire broke out minutes later at a Sonic fast food restaurant about five miles away near Brodie and Slaughter lanes.

"Having two working fires in the same part of the town at the same time makes for a very busy evening," Smith said.

The apartment complex blaze was accidental, Smith said, triggered by a heating blanket. Residents ages 62 and older live at the center.

The fire was contained to one third-floor apartment, but at least two other apartments were damaged as crews battled the blaze, Smith said.

The entire building lost power after electrical lines were damaged, Smith said. Sixteen residents of those 15 apartments were displaced and moved to temporary shelter, he said.

Smith said weather conditions did not appear to play a role in a busy night for firefighters.

The overnight incidents were a "coincidence," Smith said. "The big concern will be on a Tuesday when the winds will switch out of the north. Today there will be elevated winds, strong south winds, but on Tuesday we will be on high alert."

Strong winds are expected early Tuesday as a strong cold front is expected to move through the region.

Local winds could be up to 20 to 30 mph on Tuesday as temperatures dip from highs in the high 80s Monday to the high 60s by Tuesday, the National Weather Service says.

Copyright 2013 - Austin American-Statesman

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