Duplex catches fire in Stone Oak retirement community
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The blaze broke out just before 6 a.m. at a duplex in Independence Village at Stone Oak in the 20500 block of Huebner Road. Battalion Chief Brooke Hildreth said the fire destroyed one of the homes and badly damaged the other.
Two couples were displaced.
When firefighters arrived, everyone inside already had gotten out safely, Hildreth said. By then, the fire had reached the attic and it quickly ran the length of the building.
"It was just a little stubborn," Hildreth said. "It was shooting off quite a bit of embers, and we were worried because it's so dry."
Neighbors were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.
"They said to get out, so I ran out without my shoes on," said Betty Hennington, 91. "I was sound asleep and they were pounding on my front door."
Two vehicles parked outside were spared from the flames, and firefighters placed a tarp over a third to try to shield it.
Jennifer Flores, a community director at the retirement community, said the fire did not reach the neighborhood's assisted living facility; it only affected the duplex. She credited a newspaper deliveryman for spotting the fire and alerting everyone to get out.
Hildreth estimated the fire caused about $200,000 worth of damage. Firefighters managed to save the contents of one of the homes, but the other was deemed a total loss. An arson team is investigating the cause of the fire, but it does not appear to be suspicious.
Hennington and neighbor Mona Koonce, 80, praised the crew for quickly containing the blaze and for helping residents evacuate.
"They've done a wonderful job," Koonce said.
Fire spokesman Christian Bove said it was not immediately clear on Friday whether the duplex had working fire alarms. He said the structure appeared to be up to city code regulations.
Four hours before that blaze, another broke out in Universal City in the 400 block of Wagon Crossing Road. That fire, fueled by chemicals used to restore cars, destroyed one home and caused considerable damage to a neighboring structure.
And about noon, a fire apparently started by an electrical malfunction gutted a home in the 1200 block of Vermont Street. The fire caused about $50,000 worth of damage, though it did not destroy the home.
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