South Austin fourplex fire being investigated as arson

Around 3:30 Friday morning, Jontavia Williams, like most people, was sound asleep. "I just started to smell like a burning smell, and I was like what's that smell, nobody could be barbecuing this early."

What she smelled was what she initially feared it could be.

"We heard our downstairs neighbor banging, ‘it's a fire get out, get out.'" So I just grabbed my daughter and boyfriend. We just ran outside. To my surprise it was my storage that was on fire," said Williams.

The Austin Fire Department said the fire started in a closet inside one of the units and spread throughout the South Austin fourplex. Nineteen people were displaced.

"There were no serious injuries. Although one adult and one infant are under observation by ATCEMS. Three adult occupants and one Austin police officer were brought off the second floor balcony," said Andre Jordan, shift commander with AFD.

Although grateful for their lives, some residents told FOX 7 Austin, they were not happy about the response time from the fire department. "The police department came before the fire department came. Like she said, it was more police, 10 deep, than it was the fire department showing up to the scene. Had they come sooner it could've been deescalated." said Lisa Howell.

The fire department said the smoke alarms were working at the time of the fire.

They are calling this arson.

For the time being, displaced residents are left to pick up the pieces of what's left of their daily lives. "My storage was engulfed in flames. It's really upsetting because I have a baby on the way. Everything in there was his and my daughter's," said Williams.

"This is my only place. I came out of foster care and been on my own since I was 17 and I been getting it on my own. This is all me," said Lisa Howell. 

The American Red Cross is assisting those who were displaced. 



19 people displaced after fourplex fire in South Austin