Irving apartments demolished after four-alarm fire



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Posted on December 4, 2012 at 8:54 PM

Apartment fire

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IRVING — Crews demolished an Irving apartment complex overnight after a four-alarm blaze tore through the building Monday night.

The fire, which destroyed 22 apartment units and forced 56 residents from their homes, began in an upstairs apartment at the Arbors of Las Colinas development, located in the 1000 block of San Jacinto Drive.

Dozens of residents didn't have a chance to salvage anything before the complex was razed.

"The integrity of the building had been so compromised that we felt it in the best interest of all, and in the interest of safety, to go ahead and have the building demolished," said Irving Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson.

Lisa Tovar, her daughter, and 11-year-old grandson Stephen, left their second-floor apartment with only her purse and car keys. Everything else they own is somewhere in a huge pile of rubble.

"We didn't get anything out," Tovar said. "We lost everything, including things that were very valuable to us."

The exact cause of the fire is unknown at this time, and because the building was destroyed, fire investigators will have to try to determine the cause through witness interviews, according to Wilson.

"The thought of people -- including children and onlookers [who] wandered into that area -- [if] that [building] collapsed, makes us want to take care of that first and foremost," Wilson said.

Tuesday, crews worked to clear bits and pieces of material from the parking lot as they made way for a temporary, chain-link fence to surround a massive pile of debris. It meant residents would not be able to search for their belongings inside the damaged building.

"The fire was so bad, that the likelihood they could have salvaged anything was very slim," Wilson added.

Anita Foster with the Dallas-Fort Worth Red Cross said the agency assisted 11 families.

"The overwhelming majority of the affected residents had renter's insurance, most were able to get into hotel rooms," Foster said.

Other residents stayed with family and friends following the fire.

At least two people with burns were taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas for treatment and several others suffered minor injuries after fire broke out around 6:30 p.m. at the complex, which is just west of the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and the Bush Turnpike.

"My neighbor right across from me, he broke his ankle and his wrist catching a lady that fell off the third floor," said resident Kevin Uselton. "He and another guy braced her fall, and so he's on his way to the hospital right now."

Five police officers were treated for smoke inhalation after making sure all tenants were safe.

Dallas firefighters were called in to help their Irving colleagues bring the blaze under control.

Tax records indicate that the three-story apartment community was built in 1984.