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Investigators: Electric Blanket Started Southwest Austin Apartment Fire
An electric blanket is to blame for sparking a fire in a senior living complex. It happened shortly after 2 a.m. at complex on the 2400 block of Western Trails Boulevard.
The apartment complex is described as an independent senior living facility but some residents are disabled and that made it difficult to evacuate.
The fire started on the third floor. A resident who only wanted to be identified as Rita said she heard the "lady upstairs screaming help me, help me, my apartment is on fire."
Despite being dependent on a wheelchair Rita went back into her apartment and called 911 and then she grabbed her dog and used the elevator to get out. She says she wasn't scared, "because the elevators were functioning."
But not all residents knew the fire had started and firefighters went door to door getting people out. One resident told is the kicked in one residents door because she wouldn't wake up.
The Red Cross who is helping the displaced residents says one of their biggest challenges is making sure residents have medications and equipment they need from their units. Red Cross Spokesperson, Sara Kennedy says, "That's a really serious issue. If there's a medication that you take on a regular basis then you need to have it. So ensuring that those folks had what they needed was definitely a challenge and a big concern for us."
More than a dozen residents are now either staying with family or in hotels. Many of the displaced residents will be able to get back into their apartments soon once gas and electricity is restored.
By Lydia Pantazes