Houston mother believes apartment fire that sent her 3 kids to hospital could have been prevented

Courtney Carpenter Image
Thursday, December 8, 2022
Family claims apartment managers sat on their hands before unit burned
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A mother said the fire that sent her three children to the hospital could've been prevented as she has been continuously asking for an electrical fix.

SPRING BRANCH, Texas (KTRK) -- Three children were taken to the hospital after an apartment fire in the Spring Branch area.

Houston firefighters were called to a three-story apartment complex on Wirt Road at Long Point around 10:47 p.m. on Tuesday.

Video from the scene showed large flames coming out of the roof of the building. The building was visibly charred with holes in the siding after the flames were extinguished.

No firefighters were injured.

On Wednesday, ABC13 spoke with the mother of the three children who were sent to the hospital. She said her children, a 1-year-old, 8-year-old, and 10-year-old, had to escape from the third-floor balcony as the fire broke out at their apartment last night.

"They were just traumatized," she said.

All three kids were taken to the hospital, checked out, and are OK. She says her 8-year-old son suffered a mild concussion.

"Things could have been worse," she said.

She also believes this could have been prevented.

The mother, who does not want to show her face for fear of retaliation from apartment management, said that since they moved into the La Serena at Spring Branch Apartments in September, there have been electrical issues in the apartment, issues she says have gotten progressively worse.

"It escalated. My husband was putting a plug into the wall, and the lights shut off, and he kept wiggling it, and the lights were just flickering, and then here we are now," she explained.

She shared a video with ABC13 that she filmed last week showing the problem. The video shows the lights flickering throughout the apartment as her husband plugged a cord into the electrical outlet.

She also showed us emails and a written notice she sent to management about the electrical problem and said that Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the fire, she was again asking management for a fix.

"I said, 'I have electrical problems,' and they (apartment management) said, 'We are going to get to it. We are going to get to it,' and I've just been getting attitude and inconsistent communication," she explained.

HFD arson investigators ruled the cause of the fire as accidental, due to an unspecified electrical malfunction. It is unclear if that malfunction is the same issue this woman raised concern about.

ABC13 worked to get more information from complex management, but we were asked to leave, and they would not provide any contact information for the higher-ups.

"I just want them to own up to their negligence," she explained.

This family is now looking for a place to stay and starting over.

"We have duties to our children to provide for them, and now it's like starting from ground zero because we couldn't salvage anything," she said.

Officials said six apartments at the complex were damaged in the fire.

The Red Cross will be assisting the families that were displaced.

If you have a renter concern you would like Action 13 to look into, fill out ABC13's Renters' Rights form.

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