Fire Evacuates Senior Living Complex

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AUSTIN (KXAN) - A two-alarm fire caused by a heating blanket evacuated a South Austin senior living housing complex early Monday morning.

All of the neighbors got out of their apartments safely after firefighters alerted them at 2:15 a.m.

"We immediately went to a second alarm, both because we had heavy fire showing and because of the type of facility it is," said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Thayer Smith. "We were concerned with potential problems with evacuations. A lot of these folks are on oxygen, wheelchairs, that sort of thing."

Fire investigators said a woman getting ready for bed had a heating blanket plugged in another room. 

Her smoke detector went off, and she left the apartment when she saw the fire to tell neighbors to leave. The neighbor below her apartment called 911. 

The fire burned an apartment on the third floor of the three-story building on Western Trails Boulevard. Smoke and water damaged adjacent apartments and those below the apartment where the fire began.

Firefighters and police officers evacuated all five wings of the complex, and neighbors in four of those wings were able to get back home within two hours. 

The complex staff and American Red Cross workers are helping 16 people who live in the building where the fire started, using the complex's community center as a temporary shelter.

Fire investigators have labeled the cause of the fire as accidental. They estimate $300,000 worth of damage to the building and $100,000 worth of damage to people's belongings.

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