Fire destroys East Amarillo apartment complex

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Several families are without homes after an apartment complex fire in East Amarillo.

Victims of this morning's fire at the Evergreen apartment complex are picking up the pieces of their lives Wednesday night, after losing nearly everything.

It all happened so fast, one minute maintenance man, Jose Camarena was painting the apartment complex that's been there for decades, the next minute he was calling 911.

He says, "I was the first one to call for help. Then I started knocking on all the doors to get everyone out. Everything was full of smoke. You couldn't see anything."

The five-unit complex, home to 19 people, was up in flames and burning fast. Then there was the explosion.

Camarena says, "Everybody was scared around here. There were flames and smoke everywhere. It was pretty bad."

The tenants watched their home and their belongings disappear in front of them, as fire fighters battled the blaze.

Lillian Bull, the sister of the apartment complex owner says, "Some families came into the office with their kids and they hardly had any clothes or shoes on."

Fire fighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other apartments, but this one couldn't be salvaged.

Complex owner Larry Kinder says, "It's a great loss for us. We are just very fortunate and very happy no one got hurt."

Aid began pouring in immediately from the Red Cross and Catholic Family Services. The victims now have money for food and clothing, and a place to stay.

Bull explains, "We had available apartments we tried to get them into and made sure everyone was taken care of. We don't want anybody to be out in the cold."

It's been just hours since the blaze ripped through this building, but tonight people are working hard to secure it. A lot of children live in the area and they want to make sure no one gets hurt in the rubble. They're boarding up windows and posting signs warning people to stay away.

While the future remains uncertain for everyone involved in this fire, they're just glad it didn't turn fatal.

The fire remains under investigation, but officials believe it may have been started while someone was cooking with propane. They estimate the damage to be around $150,000.