A large fire ripped through an apartment building early Monday in west Fort Worth, forcing at least 40 people from their homes, fire officials say.
Firefighters were first called at about 2:45 a.m. to The Cassidy at Western Hills apartment community in the 8700 block of North Normandale Street.
Cody Hollingsworth captured the fire on his cell phone, just moments after his wife and kids escaped the fire.
“It was a choking smoke smell, almost like a fire pit. I grabbed basically whatever we could right then and there, get down the steps, and as soon as we get down the steps, the apartment directly behind you, you could see flames kind of funneling out of it," Hollingsworth said.
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He said the family dog Snuggles was able to run out when firefighters entered the building. The family's cats are still missing.
Fort Worth fire spokesman Kyle Clay said the first crews to arrive at the scene saw flames shooting from the roof of the two-story building. It took the efforts of nearly 100 firefighters to get the blaze under control.
Fire officials said the risk of home fires increases during the winter months and holiday season as more people use heaters to stay warm.
They have some tips for families: have a fire escape plan, and close your bedroom door before you sleep, in case there’s a fire.
“It’s keeping all that hot air out of your room. It gives you much extra time to get out of that space and find another way out. You should always have a couple of ways out of every space in your house,” Clay said.
Monica Small lives in a first-floor apartment in the building that burned. She said that she woke up to a neighbor banging on her door, telling her that the building was on fire.
Small described the sinking feeling she was faced with after she escaped to safety.
"Just standing here, watching it burn down, it’s like knowing that you are losing everything in front of your face. It’s hurtful," Small said.
The fire was contained to one building of the community and damaged at least 16 units, with at least 40 tenants displaced, Clay said. The American Red Cross was assisting people who were forced to leave their homes.
There were no reports of injuries.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.