Residents jump from windows to escape fire

January 11, 2010 4:13:34 PM PST
Neighbors helped each other escape a raging fire caused by a family trying desperately to stay warm. And now that the smoke has cleared, some families tell us they're left with nothing. It was one of two separate apartment fires that left several families in our area homeless. The first fire happened overnight in west Houston, destroying two dozen apartments. And Monday morning, another fire erupted in Pasadena, this one, the result of a family using their oven as a heater.

For five years, Teresita Samudo lived in her Pasadena apartment with her husband and two children. Monday morning, she lost everything she owned.

"What is not burned is wet," she said. "My television, everything burned."

Three other families are in the same position after firefighters say an oven left on for heat caused a massive fire that spread quickly.

"There's just so many things that can go wrong trying to heat a structure with a device that isn't approved for that," said Pasadena Fire Marshal David Brannon.

Several residents jumped from the second story to escape the flames.

"I just broke the window out and jumped out," said resident Merenda Flanagan.

Rogelio Inojosa and his wife also jumped after throwing their two children to safety. "As soon as she dropped, they caught her and I just dropped out," said Inojosa.

"The fire got too high, so I had no option but to throw them out the window," said resident Julie Murillo.

With clothing and food donations from the Salvation Army, residents are now moving into vacant units and starting over.

"These are material things," said Flanagan. "I can replace these, but I can't replace myself, so I thank God for that."

No one was hurt in that fire, but the residents did not have any insurance. The Salvation Army says it will continue to assist them.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the massive four-alarm fire on Houston's west side. The fire destroyed most of the second and third floors of the apartment building on Lakeside Forest near Wilcrest. Luckily , everyone was able to get out of their homes safely, but dozens lost everything. Some got out with just the clothes on their back. The Red Cross is helping those fire victims find another place to stay.