Fire destroys South Austin condos under construction, nearby apartments

The heat, for the fire fighters called to the scene, was intense.

So hot nearby vehicles started to melt. The flames lit up the morning sky over South Austin . The fire which swept through the construction site for the Mesa Condos on Banister Lane may have also consumed any clues as to what ignited the blaze. AFD Division Chief Thayer Smith said a request for assistance from the ATF was not made.

“We have the man power for this one,” said Smith.

The Austin Fire Department arson team will search for the cause.

“They’ve already run our dog through the scene to check for any accelerants, they’ve dug a few areas where witnesses tell us they thought it started,” said Smith.

But Smith warned knowing where may not answer how.

“I dont think we will ever have a cause unless there is a, it will remain undetermined, unless something else comes forward.”

As the fire burned roads were closed and utility lines snapped.

The fire jumped into 12 units at the Oaks Run Apartments.

The fight, to save the rest of the complex, brought out residents like Christian Tamburri.

“It sounded like a big 4th of July or New Years blast. I came outside and saw a huge blaze coming over the trees it felt pretty out of this world. I honestly have never seen anything like it it was pretty intense and scary,” said Tamburri.

It wasn't until mid morning that most of the hot spots were soaked down. That made it safe enough for investigators to start moving through the debris and to allow some of the 26 residents who were forced out to go back and salvage what they could from their apartments.

Several residents say the fire moved so fast there was very little time to get out. And some of them credit the quick work of one of their neighbors for saving lives.

“A couple of my neighbors have kids and i wanted to get them out of there asap,” said Jack Hardin.

Hardin described his morning dash though the complex warning residents.

“I heard the transformers popping, i come from an electrician background. That’s when i knew things were going awry. 3:45 in the morning i went outside, you could literally see the flames trough the trees, that’s when i started banging on everyone’s door , yelling fire, fire, fire,” said Hardin.

Only one person was hurt during the evacuation. The Red Cross is helping residents now. And crews from Austin Energy worked into the afternoon, above the scene, restoring power to the area.