EVERMAN (CBSDFW.COM) – Investigators are “99.9 percent sure” arson was the cause of a massive apartment fire, which destroyed two dozen apartments in Everman, just south of Fort Worth; leveling an entire apartment building. Residents said the arsonist was a stranger who began knocking on doors at the Oakwood Terrace Apartments in the 900 block of Coury Road early Thursday morning.

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(credit: Joel Thomas, CBS 11 Reporter)

(credit: Joel Thomas, CBS 11 Reporter)

“This guy comes to my door at about 5:20 this morning, asks me could he lay on the floor and I said no,” said apartment resident Freda Manning. “About five minutes later I smelled something burning. The whole door was lit up with smoke.”

Witnesses said a fire roared across several apartment doorways and quickly spread, fanned by frigid winds. Some people tried to race through the flames blocking their doorways. “I had to come out the front door. I got burned from the back, on my feet and everything,” said fire victim Mark Marble, who suffered minor burns.

Others scrambled through their burning apartments to find other ways to escape.

“So, when I opened the door, the whole balcony was on fire,” said Ashley Ramirez. “So, Brandon was like ‘Go get the kids,’ so we went to go get the kids and we had to jump out the window.”

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Some threw their children from second floor windows to police officers below. In minutes, the entire block of two dozen apartments was completely engulfed in flames.

“It was real terrifying man!” exclaimed apartment resident George Shaw.

Entire families were left with only their clothes or blankets they escaped in on their backs. Twelve hours later the ruins of the building still smoldered and firefighters kept watch for hot spots.

Close to 60 people were taken to a city building for shelter during the day, 40 or 50 of them will later be taken to a community center for overnight shelter, according to the Red Cross.

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