Neighbor saves couple from burning vintage clothing store in Montrose

June 6, 2013 10:00:00 PM PDT
A store in the Montrose area that was popular for its vintage clothing and records was severely damaged by an overnight fire. A man and his girlfriend barely got out of the place in time. They say they could have been killed.

The Vintage Oasis store on Westheimer near Mulberry caught fire at about 12:30am Friday. The building did not have a working smoke detector.

Jason Puffer knows he is lucky to be alive. He and his girlfriend were asleep when the home-turned-vintage-clothing-store where he's lived for six years caught fire. A good Samaritan woke them up.

"Thank God for our neighbor," Puffer said. "By the time we were getting out, the flames reached upstairs, the smoke started going. If it was 30 seconds or a minute later, we might not have made it out."

He is trying to find anything that's left of his belongings but is incredibly grateful.

"I can never thank him enough. He saved mine and my girlfriend's life," Puffer said.

Puffer lost three cats in the fire at the Vintage Oasis clothing store. The owner, Cher Castro, lost two other cats. Her store carried decades of carefully-collected items popular with people hosting theme parties and had been in business since 1996. The fire destroyed all of the merchandise.

"Vintage jewelry, shoes, men's and women's clothes, hats," explained Steve Candelari, a friend of the owner.

Nita Alessandra's house backs up to the store.

"I heard this whoosh," she recalled. "When I got up, I saw my whole back yard was red."

Firefighters say all of the clothing packed inside quickly fed the flames, and the building is a total loss. While Castro's landlord has insurance on the structure, her items were not insured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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