Families Displaced After One of the Biggest Apartment Fires in Odessa

Families Displaced After One of the Biggest Apartment Fires in Odessa

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - An Odessa apartment building went up in flames early Sunday morning. Eight units at the Arbor Pointe Apartment Complex caught fire.

Luckily no one was really hurt.

Officials say they were called in around 5 p.m. 

"When we first got on scene, it was large enough, we called a second alarm and so we ended up with five engines, two medics, a battalion. Actually, we called for Midland. Midland brought over a ladder truck and assisted us," Battalion Chief, Kevin Tinney, said.

Odessa Police also helped to clear out surrounding homes.

"None of the other buildings really were in jeopardy. There was enough space, enough break in between the buildings that we didn't have a problem," Tinney said.

But he said they did get a report that someone may have been in one of the apartments affected, "so we made entry in there and searched it real quick." But luckily the place was empty.

The fire department is investigating the case, although they say it isn't anything suspicious.

Officials said it was an accident by a couple of the tenants. Witnesses claim some people were cooking a late night snack. Apparently, attempting to make chicken nuggets set off what officials tell NewsWest 9 is one of the most dangerous apartment fires they've had to work.

According to Tinney, the average fire takes about 10 minutes to control. The one that caused this damage, with a caved in roof, was a lot more dangerous, lasting about two and a half hours.  

"Because once the fire gets in the attic and roof starts caving in, then you gotta deal with the fire underneath and all the shingles and the debris, so it makes it a lot more difficult for us to get to," he explained.

Tinney added that the units are typically flat-roofed and they have their AC units sitting up on top, so it had extra weight that could be more of a liability during a fire.

Only one person had to be transported to the hospital for smoke injuries. But Tinney said seven families, "all pretty much lost everything."

Eight units burned down, but one was being remodeled and didn't have any residents.

Kimberly Smith, who's with the non-profit Ector County Angels By Grace, says they're here to help.

"We're trying to reach out to the families if they're in need of clothes, shoes, toiletries, anything like that. They can contact us either through Facebook or we're also accepting donations for these families at this time," she said. Their page is Ector County Angels By Grace.

They're just glad it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

"I'm just thankful that God was watching over them took care of them," she said.

"Any time you have a fire at 4:45 in the morning, the potential of somebody being asleep and not waking up is greater. I felt very fortunate that everybody got out. I felt real fortunate that out of 29 firefighters, none of them got injured because it was that dangerous," Tinney said.