Fire Destroys East Dallas Apartments on Thanksgiving Night

Damaged building demolished Friday; cause of fire unknown

Dozens of North Texans lost everything on Thanksgiving Day when a fire swept through their East Dallas apartment complex.

Dallas Fire-Rescue said 22 families were displaced; The Red Cross equated that to about 50 people and said that number could go up.

A fire burns inside the Solaras Apartments on Forest Lane in East Dallas Thursday night.

A Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman said the fire was reported about 6:40 p.m. Thursday at the Solaras Apartments on Forest Lane. First responders found bright orange flames shooting through the roof, images which were recorded by onlookers with mobile phones.

After calling for backup, it took as many as 80 firefighters about three hours to extinguish the flames, DFR said.

No injuries were reported.

Many residents said they had just started their Thanksgiving meal.

"We were eating ham and watching the game. Then someone came banging on the door, saying the apartment was on fire. We ran out with no paperwork, money, nothing. We just got out," resident Anibal Tapia said. "I have three kids. One is autistic. She kind of freaked out when she saw the fire. They're all sick from standing out here. One of my kids has asthma. His inhaler is in there too. I don't know what to do."

Eduardo Leaton said he sprang into action to help neighbors get out.

"I went to the door, pounded on the door but got no response. I kicked in the door, and a bunch of smoke started flowing out. I was yelling, 'Is anybody inside?'" Leaton said.

The apartment complex relocated families left without a home.

Some people were concerned about immigration paperwork they were forced to leaved behind.

"Unfortunately they were not able to go in because the building is deemed unsafe. It's already beginning to collapse in certain parts of it," said Cynthia Coronado with Dallas Fire-Rescue.

On Friday, the damaged building deemed a hazard were brought down using a bulldozer.

The cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation.

NBC 5's Brian Roth contributed to this report.

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