More than a dozen people were forced from their homes, after an early morning fire at the Good Haven Apartments off South High Hill Place in Oak Cliff.
Tenants described the moments as “intense” when fire rushed through one of the buildings in the complex, just days before Thanksgiving.
“It was terrifying,” said Djuana Carter. “Very terrifying.”
Tenants across four units, at least seven adults and six children, were forced from their homes. The fire started in the stairwell of a two-story four-plex, according to Dallas Fire Rescue. Tenants say the fire and smoke trapped them inside their homes.
“I heard the alarm going off, and we all got down on the ground and we crawled out,” one victim said.
The families were forced out into the cold. They say it all happened so fast.
“It’s difficult,” said Willie Rhodes. “Lord have mercy. Jesus!”
Rhodes said she was trapped in her first floor unit with her son, who is disabled. Two neighbors broke windows to help pull that family to safety.
“They said, ‘Fire.’ I said, ‘Oh Lord, how am I going to get you out?’ He said, ‘Momma, get me out get me out.’”
Some of the victims say they had to jump from windows on the second floor.
“When I opened the door to go out, so we could go down the stairs, I couldn’t,” Carter said.
The woman said she and her seven-year-old granddaughter had to jump from a window two flights to safety.
“They made me jump,” Carter explained. “I threw her down, a lady caught her.”
Neighbors across the complex said they had been reporting an arsonist who had allegedly been setting fires across the complex. Eric Wyatt said a man set some object on fire in the stairwell of his nearby building on Saturday.
“I want the guy caught,” Wyatt said.
A few of the victims suffered minor injuries as they escaped.
“This is the time to be thankful for. It’s not the turkey,” Carter said. “It’s times like these where people come to your aid, no matter what, they put their lives in danger, as well.”
Neighbors were working with the Red Cross and apartment managers to figure out what to do next. Dallas Fire-Rescue said the cause of the fire remained an ongoing investigation.