GRAPEVINE — Firefighters in Grapevine battled a stubborn five-alarm blaze Saturday night at an apartment complex next door to the Grapevine Mills shopping mall.
Large flames shot up from The Enclave at Grapevine after the first alarm came in at 8:45 p.m.
"Seeing it five miles away is just... wow!" said Shawn Oliver. "Blown away, man."
A total of three, three-story buildings -- all under construction -- were involved in the fire, and residents of townhomes in the same complex just a few hundred feet away were evacuated as a precaution.
Grapevine Deputy Fire Chief Mark Ashmead said the first reponders had problems locating hydrants because it was in a construction area.
Fighting the fire was also tricky because the buildings involved were about six months from completion. "Buildings under construction are at their most vulnerable; there is no compartmentalization," Ashmead said. "The wood is exposed and raw. There's no fire protection in place, and the fire can spread quite easily."
Some people reported seeing fire on the horizon from as far as 20 miles away.
The emergency situation cut power to the AMC Grapevine Mills 30 movie theater, and patrons streaming out were alarmed to see the inferno across the parking lot.
One witness told News 8 he saw a "white flash" in the sky just before the complex erupted in flames, but Chief Ashmead was not able to confirm that the fire was triggered by space debris, and the cause remains under investigation and foul play is not suspected.
Two of the apartment buildings were said to be a total loss; the third suffered minimal damage.
Chief Ashmead said more than 20 neighboring agencies responded to a call for mutual aid, including Coppell, Flower Mound, Keller, Southlake, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Colleyville, DFW Airport and North Richland Hills.
The flames had subsided by 10:20 p.m., but firefighters and onlookers were dealing with a lot of smoke.
There were no reports of injuries.