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Oct 7, 2013 2:43 PM by Maddie Garrett

Extensive damage delays fire investigation, residents evacuated

Fire investigators are trying to figure out what caused a three alarm fire Sunday night in an apartment building. On Monday morning, 20 people were waiting to find out if or when they can return to their homes.

The fire broke out at The Retreat at Austin Bluffs apartments around 10:30 Sunday night, and nearly 12 hours after the fire started, firefighters couldn't even get into the building because of safety concerns.

Scott Gustad and his son looked on as water and smoke drifted from their apartment building Monday morning. They'd returned home to see if they could get inside after the fire.

"It was kind of a shock, especially for my son," said Gustad.

He and his 12-year-old son woke up to the sounds of people screaming and smoke billowing outside. Gustad said the apartments above him had already caught fire.

"When you came out on the deck it was just a shower of sparks on the other side," he recalled.

Nearby neighbor Marc Aragon heard the commotion too, and said he was worried the massive flames might spread to his building.

"It was a little scary, there's a street across from us but it's still a little too close for comfort," said Aragon.

The fire was so intense, by Monday morning firefighters still couldn't go inside the building to mop up hot spots. Special investigators had to make sure the building is sound enough before anyone can go inside. That included Gustad and his son, waiting to see if there's any damage to their home.

"I don't think there's any fire damage inside there but probably water damage," said said.

But other families weren't so lucky. Just from looking on the outside, it's clear several apartments on the third floor were completely gutted by the fire.

"I feel so bad for them," remarked Araon. "What are they going to do?"

The Red Cross is helping those who lost everything in the fire, and is finding housing for some of the victims.

As for a cause, investigators said that could take several days to determine. However, it does appear the fire originated on the third story of the apartment building.

This three-alarm blaze comes at the start of Fire Prevention Week. Firefighters on scene say for this fire, things went according to plan. Fire alarms did sound at the apartment building and everyone inside got out safe. There were no injuries.

Firefighters say the most important thing for any home, is to make sure your smoke alarm is working.

 

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