AUSTIN, Texas -- Around 2:27 p.m. Sunday, the Austin Fire Department responded to a two-alarm fire at Stassney Wood Apartments, a three-story complex at 1800 E. Stassney Lane.
Officials on scene said it started as a stove top grease fire and spread in a matter of minutes. The third floor of the building collapsed during the fire.
Officials said 24 units were involved and 52 people are displaced. One person was treated for minor injuries on scene.
People who live in the building next door also had to evacuate. One neighbor said when he saw the flames Sunday afternoon, he ran to get his extinguisher and make sure people got out.
I couldn't describe it. I was just in panic trying to get people out of the house, you know? Just trying to help as much as I could. Couldn't do anything but stand there and scream for help, said resident Hayward Howard.
I was amazed at how fast it spread, said resident Kelly Doychinova.
Doychinova is one the 52 displaced. Firefighters escorted her inside to take a look at the damage and quickly grab a few things.
There's a lot of water coming down right now, she described. Where I walked you could see puddles on our floor.
Her family has a place to stay for the night but she's anxious to get back inside her apartment and see what's salvageable.
My grandparents passed on a family photo album and heirloom, she said. It's got my ancestors going back for a couple hundred years in photographs, and letters and stuff like that.
When the fire sparked at her next door neighbor's apartment, she immediately started knocking on doors, grabbed her kids and got out.
I said 'it's too late, we cannot put this fire out with fire extinguishers, Doychinova explained.
She said one thing learned from this experience is to have a plan in place.
We forgot our car keys, things like that, she said. Our cell phone, you don't think about things like that.
The fire caused $450,000 worth of damage.
Now it's just about where is everybody going to go? And we don't really know right now, she said.
The Red Cross will help the displaced families. Capital Metro is also on site to offer transportation options for those families.The property management company is opening up vacant apartments in the complex for displaced families, they're also checking with their other properties to see if there is room at any of those locations.
Due to the fire, the northbound service road of I-35 at Stassney was shut down.
Fire officials say if a grease fire starts do not put water on the flames because that will make it worse. Instead, smother it to put out the flames.
For more information on creating an emergency plan with your family, visit The Red Cross' website.