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Four-Alarm Apartment Fire Cause May Never Be Known

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jennifer Lindgren
Jennifer joined CBS 11 News in September 2013. For her, the move ...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The fire that broke out in a Northeast Dallas apartment complex Thursday, left the entire building destroyed and dozens of people without a place to live.

The fire started around 4:30 p.m. on the third level of building six at the Stone Ranch apartments on Skillman.

The flames and smoke quickly spread and at one point, shot through a window near four firefighters on an engine ladder.

All residents escaped; there was no loss of life.  The building was equipped with working smoke alarms; sprinklers were not required back when it was constructed, firefighters said.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital when debris fell on him; but he was treated and released and will be okay, Dallas Fire-Rescue officials said.

Fire investigators believe the four-alarm fire was started accidentally; but because of the amount of damage, investigators may never determine the cause.

Friday morning, all that remained was the first floor and a shell of the upper levels.  Firefighters say the roof collapsed all the way to the bottom floor.

“There’s a lot of danger around this building right now. We’ve had several things fall since we’ve been here recently so we’re going to secure the scene with fencing to prevent any other injuries,” said Chris Willeford, Dallas Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief.

The American Red Cross helped about 90 people with shelter, clothing and medication: 20 families were displaced from the building where the fire started, and another 22 from an adjoining building when the power was cut.

One woman told CBS 11 News, the apartment complex management is moving displaced residents to other available apartments in the complex.

“We’re just trying to see if we can get into there and get anything out of there,” said Loretta Grissom.

Grissom and her two children relocated to Dallas from New Orleans, after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

After the apartment fire, they fear they’ll be starting over, once again.

“You hear other people going through this and just feel sorry for them. Then you look at yourself, and it just doesn’t feel right,” said Loretta’s son, Lorenzo Grissom.

The Dallas Fire-Rescue department has had a tough week.  On Monday, veteran firefighter Scott Tanksley died while responding to an accident on an icy bridge.  Chief Willeford says, the loss of a brother is weighing on everyone’s heart right now.

“The man and women here last night and today will be involved in his funeral. It’s very hard. It’s good to have your mind taken away from that at times, but it quickly returns. The citizens have also been very kind [at the Stone Ranch apartments] offering condolences, and coming up and shaking hands with these firemen out here. It’s been a tough situation, but it’s nice to know they do understand,” said Chief Willeford.

Loretta Grissom echoed the thanks.

“I really do appreciate them. I know for a fact there are a lot of people who would not be able to handle a job like that,” said Grissom.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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