Four-alarm destroys part of Seabrook apartments

Images from fire at apartment complex in Seabrook

February 26, 2011 9:01:10 PM PST
Dozens of homes in Seabrook were destroyed after a four-alarm apartment fire Saturday morning. People rushed to get out of the burning apartment complex and crews spent much of the afternoon knocking it down. The fire broke out at around 5am at the Emerald Shores Apartments in the 3800 block of NASA Road 1. By the time it was out several hours later, two buildings had collapsed. Somewhere between 75 and 100 residents were displaced.

Neighbors say it appears it started as a cooking fire and then spread to several other units. One man tried frantically to wake everyone up. The fire destroyed more than 40 apartments off Nasa Parkway and Bayou View.

"I heard someone beating on my door telling me to get out. When I opened the door, smoke and flames shot through my front door. I slammed my door closed," said fire victim Chris Williams.

He says the flames were so powerful it took him a while to realize what was going on. His neighbor, who was knocking at his door trying to get him out, was actually on fire himself

"Literally on fire, flaming. I didn't know he was on fire when he was banging on my door," said Williams.

Williams says he and his girlfriend ran to a window to escape but before jumping out, he saw his neighbor -- the man who had saved everyone else -- jump nto the swimming pool desperate to put the fire out on himself.

"I seen him running downstairs on fire jumping into the pool, skin coming off when he hit the water," he said.

In the chaos, Williams lost sight of his neighbor. Firefighter says the man, now being called a hero, was rushed to the hospital with burns to 70 to 80 percent of his body.

Meanwhile, a resident who would not give his name, says he is in agony because he told us the grease fire started in his apartment while frying french fries in a deep fryer.

"I feel bad for them, you know. That's what hurts me," said the fire victim.

And 75 to 100 people are displaced, housed in an emergency shelter. Many of them have nothing left. And now with only the clothes on his back, Williams says he can only think about his neighbor, the man who saved his life, the man he can't even call by name.

"To stand there on fire and keep banging on my door telling me to get out, I owe that man my life," said Williams.

Williams says he wants to go to the hospital. He says he wants to hold his neighbor's hand and tell him thank you.

Firefighters tell us a second person suffered minor burns in the fire. Both burn victims are getting treatment at UTMB in Galveston.