At the moment smoke and flames became visible from the roof of a Southeast Austin duplex Sunday morning, a 14-year-old boy was asleep inside the home. His mother didn’t know the building was on fire until neighbors from across the street knocked on the door and alerted her.
The fire, which investigators say was caused by a faulty heater system, displaced six residents and four dogs living in the duplex on the 2400 block of Burleson Road, Austin Fire Department officials said. By the time firefighters arrived at 11:28 a.m., five minutes after the first 911 call, the attic was almost completely consumed by fire.
Gusts of wind exacerbated the spread of the flames, which quickly engulfed walls that lacked siding because of home renovations. By the time firefighters put out the blaze, the fire caused an estimated $150,000 worth of structural damage and about $75,000 in other property damage, fire officials said.
Despite the lack of a functioning fire alarm in the home, all six residents were accounted for and uninjured, which included the mother and son, their roommate, and three men who lived on the other half of the duplex. Residents were able to rescue two dogs, and firefighters rescued the remaining two dogs from the home.
Fire officials said the American Red Cross offered aid to the displaced residents. Norma Sanchez, identifying herself as a relative of the mother and son displaced in the fire, said she would be taking them to stay with her.
“It happened so fast,” Sanchez said. “She didn’t know smoke was coming out until the neighbor came and told her.”