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Fire sends one to the hospital (video)

By Melissa Crowe
June 14, 2013 at 1:14 a.m.
Updated June 15, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.

Apartment manager Raymond Estrada talks about the fire that occurred at Madylark Apartments in the 3800 block of  Halsey Street in Victoria.

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Laronda Harris' breath appeared like a cloud underneath the plastic oxygen mask.

Her body, still with unsafe carbon monoxide levels from the plumes of black smoke, shrank into her chair as she wondered, what was next?

The commotion of the fire blazing underneath her apartment had startled her from sleep about 5 a.m.

Harris, 25, heard something fall in the apartment below and then the smoke alarm blaring. She heard the windows popping and saw flames rising over her balcony.

"Just get out," she thought.

She grabbed her 3-year-old son and ran to safety down the smoke-filled stairs.

Victoria firefighters responded to the emergency just before 5 a.m. at Madylark Apartments in the 3800 block of Halsey Street.

The fire, which was confined to one apartment, is thought to have started in the bedroom of Harris' downstairs neighbor, said Victoria Fire Marshal Tom Legler. The cause is under investigation.

Assistant Fire Chief Tracy Fox said the woman who lived there was taken to DeTar Hospital Navarro for smoke inhalation. Her name has not been released.

Harris and several other tenants were treated at the site for smoke inhalation.

The fire was reported to be under control at 5:08 a.m., Fox said.

Throughout most of the morning, six residents were not allowed to return to their apartments because of carbon monoxide levels.

Four fire trucks, four ambulances, a battalion chief, an operations supervisor and two police officers responded to the fire.

The officers arrived first and began evacuating tenants.

The Victoria Civilian Fire Academy Alumni and the Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross also offered assistance.

The apartment manager, Raymond Estrada, said all the fire detectors were checked last month and are in working condition.

"It happened so quick," he said. "All I heard was, 'Fire! Fire!'"

Skip Holloway, 51, has lived at the Madylark Apartments the past 17 years. This was his first fire to witness.

"I saw nothing but flames coming out of that window," Holloway said. "I heard the window pop out then just smoke."

Fredrick Jones, 65, lives in an upstairs apartment at the complex.

When the fire woke him up, he sprang to action.

"I grabbed one of the fire extinguishers to help one of the guys who had a water hose," Jones said.

He was not able to get close before his extinguisher ran dry.

He sat in the parking lot trying to breathe in from the oxygen mask.

"I'm not shaken up; it's just a matter of knowing when I'll be able to go back in," Jones said. "I don't know anything right now."

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