High wind and cold weather were major factors in a big Grand Prairie apartment fire Wednesday.
Flames broke out at about 3:30 p.m. at The Fairways Apartments in the 1400 block of N. State Highway 360.
Towering smoke and flames could be seen from SH 360 and nearby Interstate 30, slowing afternoon traffic.
Assistant Fire Chief C.J. Grippin said the roof caved in on a 12-unit building in the complex soon after firefighters arrived and strong winds made the flames burn faster.
The two-alarm fire became so intense firefighters were forced to battle the flames through an aerial attack in an effort to keep them from spreading to nearby trees and buildings.
The cause is still under investigation but Grippin said the fire appeared to have started in a fireplace chimney.
“Just turning the heat on trying to stay warm, it’s the first fire in the fire place, something like that. It’s common this time of year,” he said. “The wind is blowing heavy out of the north, it does fan the flames.”
The American Red Cross is helping 11 families who were displaced by the fire, and a building inspector will determine Thursday whether the structure is stable enough for residents to salvage their remaining belongings before the structure is demolished.
NBC 5's Holley Ford contributed to this report.