Residents evacuate as 2-alarm fire destroys west Houston apartments

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by KHOU.com staff & Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 6:13 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 31 at 5:38 PM

Apartment fire

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HOUSTON—More than a hundred residents were forced out of their beds early Monday when a two-alarm fire broke out.

The Houston Fire Department says the blaze was reported shortly after 5 a.m. at the Woodlake Oaks Apartments on Ella Lee Lane near S. Gessner Road.

When the fire broke out on the other side of his ceiling, James Marsh said he didn’t hear an alarm, but his Schnauzer, Porsche, barking and he knew it was time to leave.

“Everybody just trying to get out as fast as they can. That’s about it,” Marsh said.

They had been living on the third floor of this building at the complex, where according to Marsh, there were issues with the electricity.

“Probably you turn the microwave on and the lights start flickering. You know something’s not right,” he said. “Yeah they’ve actually we had a neighbor who told the apartment manager about the wiring problem. That was about two weeks ago. Never did anything about it.”

But today, no one could ignore the blaze.

Within an hour part of the building had collapsed.

Cell phone video shows how strong it was, causing more than a hundred people to leave their homes in fear.

“A lot of people started running out of their apartments; older people, younger people with their dogs and cats. It was really dramatic man,” said Quenton Burd, resident.

Residents of nearby structures, who were concerned the fire would jump, were among those who went outside after hearing the fire trucks.

“We were asleep and in bed, and our window faces where the fire is,” said resident Zara Cecil. “I didn’t notice the flames, I just saw the lights from the fire trucks, so we looked out the window and saw smoke.”

Zara’s husband, Chris, said his neighbors didn’t appear to be too frantic, but he made the decision to evacuate anyway.

“About 10 minutes later the first flames starting appearing out of the top,” said Chris. “The first concern I had was that I’ve got my whole family here, and I know fire spread can spread quick. My first concern was ‘okay, we have to get up, and we have to get out of here.’”

The apartment building was heavily damaged.

“Our apartments are pretty much only separated by trees. Um so yeah I definitely thought it could spread pretty fast.” said another resident, Alyssa Powell.

Fortunately, there were no injuries and Marsh is glad about that.

“I’m just happy that everybody got out,” he said.

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