Massive fire at Dallas condos leaves 40 homeless




Posted on February 3, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 3 at 8:25 PM

Condo fire

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DALLAS - Fire investigators have not pinpointed the cause of a three-alarm fire that destroyed 24 apartments at the Tealwood on the Creek Condominium Complex, which is located just east of Greenville Avenue and north of East Northwest Highway.

A large plume of black smoke could be seen across the Dallas skyline around 6 a.m. at the three-story complex in the 6000 block of Melody Lane.

The flames spread quickly through the third floor of one building.

"Firemen and some of the neighbors knocked on the door  and told us to get out," said fire victim Janice Wilkerson. "I was stunned and I was going like, 'What's going on?'"

Firefighters battled the blaze in frigid temperatures and icy conditions. Heavy winds fanned the flames. Since the winter storm blew through North Texas, firefighters have been sprinkling kitty litter on the ground to get a better grip on icy surfaces.

"Slipping on the ice," said fire victim Keisha Thompson, describing the actions of the firefighters. "Some of them were getting choked by the smoke. They were just falling down the stairs.

Volunteers with the organization Box 4 worked to monitor firefighters' vital signs and keep them hydrated.

Some residents said they had a hard time getting out.

"The roof had already caved in, it was too late," Thompson said.

Thompson feared that her 9-year-old dog, Precious, had been killed in the fire, but rescuers brought the dog back to her safe and sound.

At least 50 people huddled outside in the bitter cold. DART brought in buses to help keep residents of the complex warm.

"It is never good to see this picture I am watching on your newscast this morning," said American Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster in a phone interview with WFAA. "It is especially worse when it is so cold outside."

Foster said the Red Cross was at the scene and will seek shelter for the 40 people who have become displaced by the fire.

Since the ice storm started, the Red Cross has responded to 14 structure fires, the spokeswoman said.

There has been no word on injuries or how the fire started.

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