1 injured, dozens displaced in overnight apartment fire

A man is in critical condition after an early morning fire near the University of Texas campus. A dozen people who live in the Park Avenue Place apartment building woke up to smoke alarms early Thursday morning. 

“I started hearing shouting and someone saying, ‘Help. I need help. It's a fire,’” said Drake Clapp who lives in the building. He grabbed a fire extinguisher, but the flames had already spread too far for it to make an impact. “That side was completely engulfed in flames, that whole stairwell,” Clapp said.  

The fire had also reached one of his neighbors' apartments. Clapp knew he needed help. “By the time I got outside, I called 911, got the fire department here. Luckily they're just right down the street, so they got here within a minute,” said Clapp.  

“Crews also had a report that someone was trapped inside of a second floor apartment,” said Palmer Buck, division chief with the Austin Fire Department. Firefighters said with the stairs still burning, they had to find another way in, but they were able to rescue the man in his 50s. 

“That person was given over to EMS and transported to Dell Seton in critical condition,” Buck said. 

“I know him. We're pretty friendly with each other. It's horrible,” said Clapp.  

Buck said it took about 30 minutes to put out the flames.

Leaving about $300,000 worth of damage behind. 

The fire burned two apartments and 10 others have smoke and water damage. Because of damage to utilities, everyone in the building will have to find another place to stay.

However, of the 32 units in the building, only 12 people were home. 

“Most of the occupants were not here at the time of the fire due to spring break,” Buck said.  

“I'm guessing there are some people who don't even know this happened yet, but there is a decent amount of people who are in here right now,” said Clapp.  

Fire inspectors are still working to determine the cause of the fire.

Clapp believes the location where it started could provide a clue to what happened. 

“I think the main problem was the fire came from outside and, I'm not sure there's a smoke alarm outside, so it had to come in the doors for the alarm to go off and that took a long time,” Clapp said.



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