An overnight fire at an elderly living facility in south Austin has been ruled as accidental by Austin Fire Department investigators. The fire took place at the Western Trail Apartment Complex.
Firefighters believe the fire started from either a malfunctioning heating blanket or electric outlet that was left on in a corner apartment on the third floor of one of the buildings. The resident of the home told investigators that as she was getting ready for bed, she turned the blanket on. A short time later, the woman heard her smoke detector go off, saw the fire and then got out of the apartment.
The woman went door-to-door to alert her neighbors to the fire. Everyone made it out of the building safely.
The fire was upgraded to a two-alarm blaze, and first responders to the scene had to call for backup because the complex houses seniors aged 62 and older. AFD Battalion Chief said this situation is a reminder for everyone to check their smoke detectors.
"We preach it at every fire. Most fires do not have a working smoke detector," said Smith.
16 residents are currently displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is helping residents in five of the units, and firefighters say that as soon as the electricity is back on some of the residents will be able to return to their homes.
AFD says there is about $400 thousand worth of damage.