Denton families starting over after fire destroys apartment building

A dozen people have been displaced after a massive fire destroyed a Denton apartment building.

Investigators don't yet know what caused the fire, but they do know where it started.

Firefighters said it started where trash was piled up on the property behind an apartment complex in the 800 block of W. Collins Street.

"The fire just ate this whole back of our complex," Paige Hammer said.

The condo that Hammer’s family has been renting in Denton for several years is now unlivable.

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"We were out here all the time cooking, having family time together," Hammer recalled.

A fire charred her unit and neighboring units last week.

"We all lost our homes," she added.

There are 12 people who are now displaced.

"This situation could’ve been avoided," Hammer said.

She believes an ongoing issue she’s been reporting was the reason the fire was out of control.

"Trying to get the trash maintained for about a year," she said.

Hammer provided pictures of trash previously piling up behind her unit at the neighboring Denton student apartments.

"It was out to the street. You could hardly drive through the parking lot," she said.

The Denton Fire Department said "the trash was on fire first," but what sparked the flames is still under investigation.

Hammer provided records of trash complaints she made to city officials a week before the fire.

In emails between Hammer and city officials, they say they sent a notice of violation to property management.

"We were just trying to get some sort of comment relating to the fire that happened," Hammer said.

FOX 4 asked the complex for answers Sunday, but their response was, "No comment."

Hammer said she, her boyfriend, and her 9-year-old daughter are now staying with extended family.

"You know, now we’re having to start over fresh with pretty much nothing," she added.

She’s unsure how the fire started, but she believes the abundance of trash allowed it to spread.

[REPORTER: "You thought the trash was an issue, but did you ever think it was going to turn into this?"]

"No. I never thought it would turn into this. This is absolutely devastating," Hammer responded.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Hammer and her family.