An electrical short is to blame for a 3-alarm fire that destroyed a dozen condominiums and injured several people in Dallas early Thursday morning, fire officials say.
A call to 911 was placed at about 12:50 a.m. Thursday from a condo complex on the 4100-block of Holland Avenue with reports of fire coming from the second story.
“There was already smoke inside our unit, so I opened the front door and there were flames right there,” said 82-year-old Frank Luhmow.
The flames trapped Luhmow and his wife inside their condo in the building he built in 1966. The couple had to crawl out of a window and were stranded on a second-story awning while waiting for fire crews to rescue them with a ladder truck.
When firefighters arrived, they found visible fire coming from the second floor of the the 2-story, 12-unit complex. According to Jason Richardson, with Dallas Fire-Rescue, firefighters immediately began attacking the fire while evacuating residents by ground and ladder.
Neighbors watched helplessly as the flames quickly spread through the attic.
“I went back upstairs and couldn’t get in the apartment,” said Meredith Mandle, who was trying to rescue her cat Archer. "I’m worried, obviously. I’m hoping he got scared, ran out, and I didn’t see it,” said Mandle.
As the building continued to burn, fire officials became concerned about the weight of the air conditioning equipment on the roof with the fire burning in the attic underneath. With the roof beginning to sag, firefighters were called out of the building in order to make a defensive attack from outside of the building.
It took firefighters about five hours to extinguish the blaze.
Several people were injured, though the injuries were only minor and none required hospitalization.
Many of the homeowners had no insurance and lost all of their possessions in the fire. In all, 11 residents were displaced by the fire. They are receiving clothing and other assistance from the American Red Cross.
“It can be replaced. The people are OK. That’s great,” said Mandle.
According to investigators, the cause of the fire was an unspecified electrical short in the fixed wiring of a unit on the second floor. Firefighters estimate damage to the building and property at about $625,000.