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Officer, Smoke Detectors Help Get Residents Out Of Burning East Austin Apartments
Some East Austin residents have a police officer to thank for getting them out of their burning complex Wednesday morning.
The blaze broke out at around 8 a.m. in the 2900 block of Sweeney Lane. Austin Police Officer Gary Griffin was patrolling the area when he saw smoke coming from the building. He started knocking on at least ten units to get residents out. Griffin says, “I systematically started going door to door trying to get people out of the apartment complex.” He says many of the tenants were asleep when he knocked, but everyone got out safely and no one was hurt.
We spoke with one of the tenants who lost most of his belongings. Christopher Hedge says, “I left and went to work and a friend called me about 8 a.m. and said that my house was on fire.” The flames had spread quickly and caused major damage to two of the homes. Hedge lost nearly everything but he says the important things survived, including the toy ATC he bought his grandson and his dog Bo. Bo ran out of the home when someone kicked the door in.
Firefighters say it could have been much worse because many of the residents were asleep when Officer Griffin came knocking, but some of them say they heard smoke alarms. The Austin Fire department says many times people don’t have working smoke alarms. The problem is so great that AFD will start an initiative for next year, with the goal of installing at least three smoke alarms per day in communities around Austin. That's would be 1095 installed smoke alarms for all of 2013.
By Lydia Pantazes