3 dead, 58 left homeless after Crosby apartment fire

CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- Residents of a fire-gutted apartment complex in Crosby escaped only with what clothes they had on and their lives. It is not an exaggeration but fact for those who survived the deadly fire.

Fifty-eight people have been displaced, according to investigators.

Three bodies were found Saturday afternoon in the debris. Until then, they were listed as missing.

Breanna Freeman said the victims lived in the apartment above her.

"More would have died if that man hadn't knocked on doors, warning us the building was on fire," she said.

She got out, along with her cousin and her grandparents. Her grandmother was in a wheelchair and fell out of it in the rush to escape.

"He helped pick her up and pull her away from the flames," she said. The flames were literally at their backs.

Barbara Lyle lived in the apartment next door and was also in a wheelchair.

"It burned my hair," she said, "and my robe started to melt."

Saturday night, she was staying in a motel courtesy of a Red Cross voucher. She was able to grab her purse as she was pushed out of the apartment door.

"We lost everything," said her son, Cliff Lyle.

The man credited with saving people was Ray Paz, who lives and works next to the apartment complex. His wife, Lisa, was first to hear yelling and see the flames and urged him to go help.

Paz didn't hesitate.

He went door to door yelling 'Fire!' but couldn't make it up the stairs to the apartment where the three fatalities are believed to have been.

"The smoke and flames were too much," he said. He believed by that point, they couldn't have made it to the door to get out.

Of the families to whom we spoke, all said they were never alerted by their smoke detectors.

"I had just put new batteries in it," said Chris Lyle. "I never heard an alarm."

The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fatal fire, and the issue of working smoke detectors will be part of the investigation, said spokesperson Rachel Moreno.

Some residents have been told that they will be relocated to undamaged units on the property, but for most, they have nothing to start over with, from furniture to clothing.

The names of the three victims who perished in the fire have not been released, pending confirmation by the medical examiner's office.

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