Fire victims struggle after four-alarm blaze

March 5, 2011 8:03:20 PM PST
Victims of a four-alarm apartment fire struggle to get on with their lives after losing almost all they own. They say it's going to be a long fight for their lives to get back to normal. It's been exactly a week since a fire damaged close to 40 units at an apartment complex off Nasa Parkway in Seabrook. Many of the victims still don't have a place to call home.

More than 100 residents were displaced by that massive apartment fire. In the week since then, many of those tenants have found shelter at nearby hotels or they are staying with friends or relatives. Life since then has been challenging.

When you've lost everything, like shoes...

"Those little things that you don't have at the time, they count," said fire victim Sophia Flores.

For Flores this past week has been one of the hardest. A raging four alarm fire destroyed part of the apartment complex in Seabrook where she has lived for the past five months.

She said, "It's been stressful -- staying here and there and wondering what's to come next."

A hotel room paid for by the real estate company that oversees the apartments is the closest thing Flores has to a home, but it's only temporary.

She said, "I'm trying to get an apartment locator to help me. They haven't found any move in specials." Flores already picked out furniture at a nearby donation center set up exclusively for displaced tenants like her. She says the outpouring of support from the Seabrook community has been tremendous.

Mario's Flying Pizza stepped up after the fire and provided hot meals to everyone while they were staying at the community center.

"We've had a strong history with this community. We've done it after the hurricane, after the fire," said Tom Pakkala of Mario's Flying Pizza. "We personally had three employees lose everything in this fire."

As Flores puts the pieces of her life back together, her thoughts turn to her neighbor Val. He was badly burned as he ran from door to door warning residents of the danger.

"He's my angel," she said. "He's all of our angels."

Flores says Val underwent another surgery and is said to be in critical condition at UTMB in Galveston.

Renters whose apartments were not damaged in the fire will reportedly be able to return home once water and electricity is restored.

Investigators believe the flames started from a grease fire and spread to other units. Part of the building that was damaged by the fire was torn down.