A resident of a Denton apartment building is being hailed a hero after waking up residents and warning them of a fire early Monday morning.
Damien Moore said he smelled smoke at about 6:30 a.m. Monday and that instinct kicked in. When he stepped outside of his residence at the Providence Place II apartments, he saw the fire.
"It was terrifying. It was scary," Moore said. "The first thing I do is start knocking on people's doors ... letting them know there's a fire going on."
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According to Moore, and several other residents of Building 16, the smoke alarms never went off. So, Moore became their alarm and guided the residents to safety.
"Let's get everybody out," he said. "Don’t put on your clothes, what you got on, get out of there first."
Firefighters arrived a short time later and attacked the fire, putting out the flames before the building was totally consumed.
No one was injured in the fire, though about three dozen people were left looking for new homes after a dozen residences suffered smoke and water damage.
"I didn't realize I was going to come home to this," said Sunchiray Dounley, who left for work about 10 minutes before the fire broke out. "Scary."
Dounley credited Moore with his quick action.
"My son and grandson sleep in the far back room. If he wasn't here, no telling what would have happened," Dounley said.
Many residents in the affected building – those allowed back in to salvage their belongings -- are in the process of moving out. The Red Cross is assisting fire victims. Despite the losses, many are just thankful everyone's OK.
"If I hadn't been up, it might have been worse for some of the families," said Moore. "Nobody noticed it because everybody was asleep."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but officials believe it broke out inside the wall of a third-floor apartment, one floor above where Moore lives.
While Denton fire officials were aware of the claim that the smoke alarms weren't sounding, investigators have not yet determined whether they were functional.
Several residents also claimed they’d had electrical problems in their units. However, a search of a decade’s worth of city of Denton building code records found no code complaints on file regarding any electrical issues at the complex.
Calls and e-mails to the owner of Providence Place, Denver-based Good Harbor Management, were not returned.