AUSTIN, Texas -- The American Red Cross and the managers of the Mission James Place Apartments are working to relocate 30 people, after a four-alarm-fire ripped through their apartments on Tuesday.
Resident Nikkie Nadeau is still missing a couple of cats. They all lived there for the past six years.
"I adopted them in New York City, they’ve moved with me nine times in New York City, and then cross country here. They’re my only family, I don’t have anyone else here, so it means a lot if I could get them back," Nadeau said.
Apartment management is trying to determine if the building is structurally safe, as neighbors eagerly wait for answers and turn to family and friends for a place to stay.
Neighbors helped 93-year-old Lucy Gutierrez get out of her first floor apartment in time. She and her family returned to the apartment Wednesday in hopes of retrieving some items, but it appeared the floors above collapsed into the living room.
Gutierrez fears she has lost everything in the unit she has lived in for 20 years.
"[I lost] one of the first electric sewing machines back in 1925, and, all my pictures, my family, pictures of my family," said Gutierrez.
There are possibly open units that displaced residents can transfer to, according to fire officials.
"I just kind of want to see if we can go through my stuff, see what’s salvageable. We survive a lot of other things and we’ll survive this. We always do," said resident Michael Dempsey.
The Austin Fire Department on Wednesday updated statistics related to a four-alarm blaze that ripped through a South Austin apartment building Tuesday afternoon. According to the department, an improperly discarded cigarette “obliterated 24 units” at Mission James Place Apartments, located in the 4000 block of Victory Drive.
The department said the fire started on an exterior wooden balcony on the second floor and quickly spread to the third floor and attic. The fire destroyed $1 million in property. There were no injuries reported, and several cats were rescued and returned to their owners.
The department thanked the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders for opening its closed campus to displaced residents.
The department said that due to the instability of the structure, residents wouldn’t be let back inside to claim belongings until late Wednesday at the soonest.
Those wishing to help are encouraged to donate to the Central & South Texas Region of the American Red Cross, here.