Christmas tree fire destroys more than a dozen apartments in southwest Houston

A fire in a southwest Houston apartment complex on Sunday had neighbors literally running for their lives
January 5, 2014 3:47:12 PM PST
A fire in southwest Houston on Sunday had neighbors at the Legacy at Westchase Apartments literally running for their lives.

"A guy, he banged on the window and banged on the door, and he was like, 'Fire! Get out! Fire!'" resident Rashalee Hardnitt said.

Houston Fire Department officials tell us the fire that destroyed more than a dozen apartment units Sunday afternoon on Westpark at Westchase started around 2pm with a Christmas tree.

"She got a fire extinguisher and tried to put it out, but it didn't work," neighbor Cary Spencer said. "It got out of hand; she couldn't control it."

Glen Amakwe was at home watching football when the strong smell of smoke made him a little curious.

"I thought it was a barbecue going on or something, but the smoke -- when I looked out of the window, I saw a whole bunch of fog," Amakwe said.

Amakwe was able to wake up his step-mom and run out with nothing but the clothes on his back.

"I don't even have the keys to my car," he said, "I was watching the game. I mean, I literally, a guy just gave me the shoes I'm wearing now. I didn't have time to get a shoe on."

The intense flames turned his home into a charred shell. But despite losing everything, he and other survivors say they are thankful.

"I'm blessed to be alive," Hardnitt said. "I'm blessed for that guy, whoever he is, who knocked on the door."

Several families were displaced by the blaze. The American Red Cross is assisting them.

It's unclear what caused the Christmas tree to go up in flames. The fire remains under investigation.

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