One burned in two-alarm fire at SW Houston apartment building

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- People who escaped a massive apartment fire this morning in southwest Houston are trying to salvage what little is left. One person remains in the hospital being treated for burns.

Just before 2 a.m. the Contrera family heard a knock at their Charleston Manor Condominiums in the 12300 block of Sandpiper Drive at Fonmeadow Drive.

Giovanni Contrera explains it was at his, apartment door where he heard someone yell, 'Fire, fire, fire!' Once the family got out they saw flames.

Contrera adds, "The fire was big, big, big."

Firefighters pulled a second alarm as they battled the fire. Just about everyone who lives there was asleep.

Andrew Portis says, "I looked outside and when I seen the fire I got my daughter and my best friend."

His best friend, Michael Jackson, is in a wheelchair.

Jackson says, "When I opened it the fire was already on the porch. I panicked."

Portis got the wheelchair down the stairs as quickly as he could.

There was no time to save anything else, including Jackson's prized trumpet which he smiles and says, "I'm very good."

He's been playing since 1969 and better known as "Meat Man" on the local music scene. "This one was a piccolo and they don't make them no more," Jackson says as he describes the instrument he lost.

The roommates and friends left their former home with some money from the Red Cross for a place to stay.

Portis says, "I'm going to rent a room. I haven't slept yet."

While they lost everything they still have a grateful attitude.

"We're here, we're alive," says Jackson. Portis adds, "Blessed to be alive."

One resident was transported to Ben Taub with burns to his hands. Arson investigators are now looking into the cause of the fire.
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