Several families lose homes to condo fire

December 19, 2009 7:21:20 PM PST
Several families in west Houston are now seeing what's left of their homes after a devastating fire right before the holidays. The fire ended up going three alarms before firefighters were able to get the flames out. The fire started this morning off Whittington and Gentryside.

"I just woke up to the smell of smoke," said resident Andre Stewart.

The burning remains of the condo building stood in stark contrast to the beautiful blue sky morning. It's not the start to the day anyone expected. There was little time to save their belongings or even themselves.

"When I went up the stairs, I was screaming, 'Is anybody in here, anybody in here?' And I couldn't hear anybody," said Stewart. "So I ran up them stairs and turned to the left and it was like the fire was just ablaze all in my face, so I just came back downstairs."

"It's very frightening, you know," said resident Janis James. "Your neighbors are being affected and then also it could have spread to other buildings."

She described what she saw as firefighters worked against time to save a resident.

"There was a young man sitting on the roof. I guess he had climbed out of a window. They put a ladder up and helped him get off the roof," said James.

The immediate future looms daunting for residents, even daunting for a restoration crew already on site.

"It's gonna need major repairs. You got the whole ceilings and everything is open up there," said David Hekimian with Acument Contracting Group. "So there was a lot of water that got pumped in there. So pretty much all these units are totaled."

Eight units altogether suffered major smoke and water damage. It's no way to head into the winter holidays.

"It's a sad day for them, for all of us, because they're our neighbors," said James.

No residents were injured and no firefighters were hurt tackling the fire. The cause is under investigation.


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