It was bad, but it could have been worse.
That was the sentiment Tuesday morning as residents living at the Parkview Apartments, which caught fire Monday night, surveyed the damage to their homes.
At least four families have been displaced following the blaze, which erupted shortly after 8:30 p.m. Monday. At least two of those families lost virtually everything.
Julia Rodriguez and her six-year-old daughter, Emmy, lived in one of the units that were severely damaged. Julia, a single mother, was too upset to talk Tuesday morning, but her father, Oscar Rodriguez, said he is grateful that his daughter and granddaughter were not harmed.
He said the two will live with he and his wife in Lingleville until they can get back on their feet. Although Julia lost all of her personal belongings in the fire, a few of Emmy’s most prized possessions were miraculously recovered. Among those items were Emmy’s gymnastics’ awards and uniforms.
“We were worried that everything Emmy had worked for was lost,” said her grandmother.
She said Emmy, who loves gymnastics, is traveling to Missouri at the end of June to compete. In fact, Emmy and her mother were at practice when the blaze erupted.
Stephenville Fire Chief Jimmy Chew said the first two units on the building’s north end suffered extensive damage, but a firewall located between the 2nd and 3rd units stopped the fire from spreading.
“It’s hard for people to believe that a firewall made of sheet rock can make such a difference,” Chew said. “But firewalls give us time to get set up and stop the fire.”
Chew said when fire crews arrived on scene, they assessed the situation and made the decision to try and keep the fire from spreading and save the building.
Crews were immediately sent inside to battle the blaze, then evacuated so that firefighters could extinguish the flames shooting from the roof, Chew said.
Twenty-two fire and rescue personnel from Stephenville, Erath County and Dublin battled the blaze. Five firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. One was transported via ambulance to Harris Methodist Erath County Hospital where he was treated and released.
Stephenville Fire Marshal Gary Nabors said he has not yet determined where the fire began or what sparked it. He said he has asked the state fire marshal for assistance in the investigation, but said there is no reason to suspect the fire was intentionally set.
“I just think it’s important to get another set of eyes out here,” Nabors said.
Meanwhile, apartment manager Barbara Hampton was at the site Tuesday to tell residents that the insurance company has been contacted.
George and Gayle Blair of California purchased Parkview Apartments in 2006.