Fire destroys northwest Dallas condo complex

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About a dozen apartment units were destroyed by fire in Northwest Dallas Friday afternoon, leaving at least 55 people without a home.

Dallas Fire-Rescue officials said the four-alarm fire started around 12:30 p.m. at the Forest West Condominiums in the 3000 block of Forest Lane, near Webb Chapel Road.

The damage to the building was so extensive that a bulldozer was brought it to knock it down for safety reasons. Fire investigators say they may never know what started the fire.                     

Many people came home from work to find that their apartment, along with all of their belongings were gone due to a tricky fire that was fueled in part by the wind.

Firefighters arrived to find smoke and flames shooting out of the upper floor and, eventually, the roof of one of the buildings. Firefighters worked quickly to make sure everyone was out of the burning building, and it then turned into a defensive attack.

At its peak, some 80 to 100 firefighters were battling the fire.

“I grabbed my cats and tried to get out, but they were so scared from the loud noise of the fire trucks that they ran back in,” said resident Jennie Stine. “And I ran after them, but it was too late. The whole apartment just filled up with fire.”

Sadly, Stine's cats didn't make it.

“We live around the front on the middle floor and I went to my grandson's room and I smelled smoke, like electrical smoke, and I said, ‘Do you smell that?’ and they said no,” resident Karen Gates said. “I walked around to the kitchen and I didn't see any. I opened the front door and there was smoke everywhere, coming from the brick walls.”

Now, all of the former neighbors are left wondering what's next.

“I don't know what I'm going to do,” Gates said. “I just did my chemo yesterday and I'm feeling sick. Going through cancer. I'm devastated, but I'm lucky to be alive.”

Several parts of the building collapsed due to the damage and amount of water that had to be dumped on the fire to get it out.

The Red Cross is assisting displaced residents with clothing a place to stay for the next few days.