Dallas Fire-Rescue battled a excessive heat along with a huge apartment fire on Congress Avenue early Wednesday morning.
The 3-alarm fire was first reported at about 4:30 a.m. at the Congress House Apartments on the 4300-block of Congress Avenue in Oak Lawn.
Firefighters arrived to find an upstairs unit engulfed in flames. The fire quickly spread to the common attic, jumped fire walls and and across the building, leaving residents little time to grab any belongings before running to safety.
“She woke up, and fire was everywhere,” said Yesenia Reyes, translating for Martha Rocha. Rocha saw flames shooting through the roof and out the windows of her complex. Like so many of her neighbors, the mother of four kids grabbed her family. It’s all they could save as they ran for their lives.
Everyone escaped the fire without injury.
"Anytime we have a fire, regardless of the alarm, regardless of the level, we're lucky when we don't have anyone get hurt. Fortunately, this happened at a time when a lot of people are getting up and getting ready to go to work, so a lot of people may have smelled it, may have seen it and been well aware of it before it got out of hand," said Jason Evans, with the Dallas Fire Department.
The biggest challenge though were excessive air temperatures which forced DFR to add more teams and rotate personnel in and out of the fight.
While some firefighters rested and cooled down, neighbors who didn't understand the personnel rotation became upset thinking firefighters were laying down on the job as their home continued to burn.
“The last thing we want to see is people overcome by the elements,” said Evans. “If they see firefighters sitting down, we'd like to let them know there are plenty of firefighters still inside fighting the fire and making sure their belongings are as safe as possible."
There are 34 units in the building with 91 percent occupancy. At least 14 of the units have been damaged in the fire. Officials say it'll take at least a day to determine what started the fire.
The Red Cross is assisting those who have been displaced by the fire.