Early Thursday morning fire swept through a northwest Austin apartment complex.
It happened near the intersection of Highway 183 and Hymeadow Drive around 3:30 a.m. at the International Residence Apartments. The flames lit up the morning sky, creating an ugly glow.
After the flames were knocked down a search got underway to make contact with the residents. They have now been accounted for and no injuries have been reported.
Throughout the morning, fire crews poured water onto hot spots and the charred remains of three buildings.
Sixty-eight units were destroyed, displacing 80 residents. Renters like Mickey Priddy and his daughter, Hannah, escaped with little but the clothes they were wearing.
"I have a lot to be thankful for I'm here. My wife and child are here our animals are alive, much to be thankful for all the other stuff is just stuff," Mickey Priddy said.
Hannah took pictures of what is left of her downstairs apartment unit.
"It was so devastating because everything I had in that room was my whole life so to know I could grab any of it broke my heart,' Hannah Priddy said.
Small explosions echoed through the complex as a strong wind fed the flames. Some residents
Were awaken by frantic knocks at their doors-- others credit smoke alarms for saving their lives.
"Some of our neighbors were banging on our door saying hey we've got to evacuate there is a fire in the next building," said Quienton Robinson. "So we got all the kids ready and we came outside. I was praying it didn't come this way."
The fire burned hot enough to melt car tires! Rows of vehicles, consumed by the flames, remain where
Their owners had last parked them. Those who have lost their homes seemed walk around the complex as if in a daze.
"It just went up so fast I've never seen anything go up so fast it was jumping from one building to another.
It came out of the gables from the top like you wouldn't believe," said Steve Lawlor.
CapMetro buses were brought in to take residents to a nearby shelter where the Red Cross and apartment managers tried to coordinate temporary housing.
Because of the size of this fire and the amount of damage back in here, agents with the ATF have been called in to help with the investigation.
The federal team is trained to locate points of origin at major fire scenes. There is a lot to dig through.
Electrical shorts - improperly discarded items like cigarette butts are possible causes to be considered.
"It could have been much worse we could have been looking at the entire complex," said
There is the possibility that the extreme temperatures produce by the fire may have consumed what actually sparked the blaze.