BENBROOK, Texas - A deadly fire forced several people to jump from the second floor of a Benbrook apartment complex.
The fire started just after midnight Friday at the Saint Nicholas Place Apartments & Mini Storage on Williams Street. When firefighters arrived, the building was already engulfed in flames.
Two women jumped from a second-floor window. They suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to the hospital for treatment.
Richard Gifford also escaped out his first-floor window because there were flames at his front door.
“We was in the apartment. We woke up and glass was busting,” he said. “We had to go out the window to get out. It was already coming to our apartment. The smoke alarms never went off.”
Gifford said the thick smoke was everywhere and parts of the floor were on fire. He had to watch where he was walking and could barely get out of the window. He said it all just happened so fast.
“The fire was really rolling out the front when we first arrived on scene,” said Benbrook Fire Chief Tommy Davis. “It was impossible for us to make an interior attack because of the amount of fire that was coming out.”
Davis said firefighters found a man’s body in an upstairs unit after they knocked down the flames. His name has not yet been released, but neighbors identified him as Donny.
Neighbors said he was the husband of one of the injured women, Becky. Apparently, after she jumped out of the window, he turned around to go back for the family's pet and did not survive.
John Kelly says he’s still in shock after losing a friend and neighbor.
“I run out here, and his wife was there,” he recalled. “I said, ‘How's Donny?’ She said, ‘When I jumped and looked back, he wasn't there.’"
Those affected by the fatal fire say they realize how fortunate they are to have survived. Many were awakened by police and firefighters banging on their doors around 1 a.m. That action was crucial for at least one.
"The officer did force entry into several apartments, assisted one elderly female out of her apartment and got her to safety,” said Benbrook Police Detective Michael Mullinax.
"Man, it was so hot standing over here, 40 yards from it,” Kelly said. “You couldn't do nothing."
The cause of the fire is also still under investigation and have not ruled out arson. Officials said a total of eight units were destroyed and four others were damaged.