More than three dozen people are without a home after a four-alarm fire ripped through the Las Terrazas apartment complex late Monday night.
The fire was first reported at 11:14 p.m. at the Las Terrazas apartments in the 14000 block of Brookgreen Drive in North Dallas.
About a dozen families just finished celebrating Christmas. Before they can even ring in the new year, they find themselves salvaging what they can from under the smoke and water -- textbooks, backpacks, a couch -- and moving to other apartments the leasing office opened up for them.
"I'm just glad that everybody got out in time and nobody lost their lives," said 15-year-old resident Erik Salazar.
"I was very scared and I was crying. We were not able to grab anything. Just blankets. That's it," said 16-year-old Elizabeth Salazar. "We are feeling very sad. My mom wasn't able to go to work because she lost everything. Her clothes are wet."
Fire investigators said an electrical short in the wiring inside a closet wall caused the blaze.
Battling the fire in wind and cold
"When firefighters arrived they could see lots of smoke coming from the roof of one two-story building," said DFR spokesman Jason Evans. "Even though most residents had self-evacuated, firefighters knocked on all the doors to ensure they had all made it out safely."
Firefighters quickly called for backup as they juggled fighting the fire with making sure everyone who lived there got out safely.
All 17 units in the building were damaged and are considered uninhabitable.
The American Red Cross is assisting the 24 adults and 17 children affected by the blaze.
"We are working with the apartment manager to determine if there are enough available units at the property to relocate all of the families. If not, Red Cross workers will make lodging arrangements," said Foster. "It has been a busy and devastating holiday season for many families in Dallas."
Since Thanksgiving Day, the Red Cross has responded to four substantial apartment fires displacing more than 200 people, according to Red Cross records.
The nonprofit organization said it is running low on supplies and money.
"It's just disheartening because you know that it's the holiday season and it's cold outside and people are in their pajamas and they're standing out on the curb," said Anita Foster, with the Dallas chapter of the Red Cross.