By Arezow Doost

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Firefighters in Fort Worth early Monday morning battled a blaze that forced 17 people from their apartment homes. The incident began at about 3:00 a.m. near the intersection of Weiler Boulevard and Brentwood Stair Road in the eastern part of the city.

The fire started on the first floor of an apartment building, inside of a vacant unit. The flames spread quickly and heavy smoke took over the building. Arson investigators were called to the scene, but it is still too early to determine what caused the fire.

Neighbors have heard that the door was kicked in, and the fire might have been started on a kitchen countertop near a stove.

Families who live near the burning unit stated that they smelled smoke. But, when they went into the building’s hallway, those residents could barely see to escape safely. “We were in that bedroom and we just heard screaming all of a sudden,” explained 11-year-old Luis Florintion, who lives at the apartment building. “My little sister she woke up and said that she smelled smoke, so my dad went to check outside and there was pretty much a fire.”

“We heard windows popping, the fire coming outside,” added resident Ashley Washington. “It was just bad.”

Josue Sanchez lives about 20 feet away from where the blaze started, with his girlfriend and her 9-year-old son. “I didn’t even walk out the door. I could see the orange glow of the flames coming through the blinds,” he said. “As soon as we came outside, there was just smoke and fire pouring out of the door. It was actually open.”

Shannon Waldbauer said, “I started screaming my son’s name to get up, and he’s a heavy sleeper, so I ran and picked him out of bed and ran out the door. I was just very, very scared.”

Initially, nobody was hurt in this incident. However, a woman who was forced out by smoke started to experience chest pains a short time afterward. MedStar checked her out at the scene.

A total of six apartment units with 17 residents are impacted by this fire. The American Red Cross is assisting those families, along with the apartment building’s management.