HOUSTON – Residents want to know what caused an apartment fire Thursday that killed one person and destroyed several units in northwest Houston.
Investigators said on Friday that the search for answers at the West Vintage Apartments, located at 6500 West 43rd Street near Northwest Freeway, could take as long as two months.
Right now residents are being allowed to salvage what they can. But very little if anything remains on the second floor where they believe the fire began.
On Friday afternoon, residents were salvaging the few pieces of their lives they could still find. Herbert Aguilar had all of his in the backseat of his car. He said that he had lost most everything he had.
His was a first floor apartment. The fire started in the one above it and witnesses say there was a deafening explosion.
“It’s kind of terrifying. It went up so quickly,” Jimmy LaRocca, a resident, said.
But the question on day two is still why.
“Rumors are there was some type of possible meth lab. I’ve heard that rumor,” LaRocca said. “Somebody said there was some oxygen tanks. That was another rumor.”
Fire investigators will not speculate. Won’t confirm or deny those rumors this early in the investigation.
They are waiting on autopsy results on the lone victim – a man who was in the apartment where it started.
“I was really scared. It made me cry,” Carmen Estrada, another resident, said.
Meanwhile 16 families, like Aguilar and his wife and children, are getting two nights worth of hotel vouchers from the Red Cross.
“After tomorrow we are on our own. See what happens,” he said.
And wait to see what happens with the investigation as they start over with the few pieces they have left.
“It’s sad. It’s sad you have to start again,” he said. “You lose things that are…irreplaceable, like memories and stuff you know.”
The victim still has not been identified. The apartment complex has some temporary units available where displaced residents can live for free for now.