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‘We have to rebuild our lives from scratch’: Families share concerns over communication, permanent housing after Dallas apartment explosion

Tenants from Highland Hills Apartments are temporarily staying at hotels in Downtown Dallas. They are waiting for details from their complex about relocations plans.

DALLAS — An investigation into an explosion at an apartment complex in the Oak Cliff area is ongoing.

The owner of Highland Hills Apartments and a group of people could be seen walking the complex grounds on Friday morning, two days after firefighters were called out to the apartments to investigate complaints about a possible gas leak. An explosion happened as firefighters were looking into the matter. 

Eight people were injured, including four firefighters. 

RELATED: 3 firefighters remain hospitalized in critical condition, 5 others released after explosion at Dallas apartment

“Everything happened so fast,” said tenant Brandy Leavy.

Piles of debris, from the now demolished building, where the blast happened remain. Windows around apartments are still busted.

“We lost everything,” said tenant Rahim Budhwani.

Miles away, in Downtown Dallas, it’s a different story. Neighbors are demanding answers as tension and worry linger. 

More than 200 people who live at the complex have been offered temporary rooms at some local hotels.

RELATED: 'Where do they go from here': Residents seek answers after being displaced by Dallas apartment explosion 

“We have to rebuild our lives from scratch,” said Audelia Camarillo.

Families are frustrated. Tenants said they are stressed and confused, knowing their temporary hotel stays are running out.

“Where will we go? Where are they going to put us?” asked Stepheny Leavy. 

City officials said Friday evening that all the hotel stays would be extended through the weekend and that they are looking into the need to extend them even further.

Residents will also be allowed to retrieve their belongings from their apartments, according to city officials.

Neighbors said communication and access to information is their main concern.

Local organizations are stepping in to help out with some of their immediate needs. Not My Son Dallas was distributing water and gift cards on Friday. American Black Cross and ROAR partnered to pass out medical supplies and other donations.

Dallas Independent School District Trustee Maxie Johnson said transportation and other services are being offered to families from the complex with school aged children.

Some tenants said they received a text message on Friday. It said, in part:

The Dallas Office of Emergency Management will ensue every resident is safely sheltered until they are able to safely return home.

Some tenants said they found the text message confusing and concerning.

“The apartment complex itself already charged us, and pulled out rent money for the month,” said Camarillo. 

No representative from the apartment complex has yet made any public statements about the investigation.

As for the tenants, some of them said the uncertainty is leaving them on edge.

RELATED: 'We don't have the money': Families displaced by Dallas apartment explosion don't know what's next. Here's how you can help

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