Cigarette started fire that displaced more than 30 people

On Wednesday, a four alarm fire displaced more than 30 people in South Austin. According to the Austin Fire Department, the fire was caused by the improper disposal of a cigarette and spread up some vinyl siding to the third floor and the attic.

"In this particular case a gentleman just didn't think about it, and had a momentary lapse of judgment. He threw his cigarette butt without making sure it was completely out and probably rolled up against the corner and wooden framing around the wall out on the exterior of the balcony which started the fire,” Chief Palmer Buck says.

The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders opened their doors to residents who were displaced, even cancelling some summer camps to help those who lost their homes. 

Read Fire at South Austin apartment complex displaces more than 30 people

More than 100 firefighters were called to the complex on Tuesday afternoon, and according to an AFD Facebook post, “Amazingly, there were no injuries.” 

AFD is saying that the fire caused one million dollars in property damage and destroyed 24 units of the Mission James Apartment Complex. 


FOX 7 Austin spoke with two residents, much of whose apartment is beyond repair.

They’re also missing their cats.

Joseph O’Day says he left the apartment for just an hour and on his way back, he saw smoke and later saw it was their apartment complex. He said his first thought was about his cats, but officials told him it was unsafe to go in and get them. 

Today, they say one of their cats was found and it was the best news they had gotten all day. Nikki Nadeau, Joseph’s roommate, said they had been outside all day just waiting to see what happens. 

“We were crying and hanging on the fence. You know at that point you just wanna kinda rip it down,” Nadeau says. Much of Nadeau and O’Day’s home was destroyed in the fire.

Nadeau said she could look into her bedroom and see some of her things within arm’s reach, but residents are still not being allowed in because of the apartment’s instability. 

Palmer Buck, AFD’s division chief, said that because of structural instability, they haven’t allowed people to go back in, and residents probably won’t be able to go back in until Thursday.

He adds, The American Red Cross is going to work long term to get those displaced back on their feet and Apartment Management has been working to get these people places to move into.