Families Displaced After Destructive Fire

You might have seen the dark black smoke at townhouses near Hancock Expressway and South Chelton Friday evening.

A townhouse unit is a complete loss after a fire overtook it. One witness described the flames as 20 feet high.

"I couldn't really even believe my eyes how big it was. We hear sirens all the time in the neighborhood and I didn't think anything of it until I saw how high the flames were. I couldn't believe it,” said witness Mark Houston.

A neighbor says her kids were outside playing with other neighborhood kids when they saw the smoke.

Once she saw how dark it was she jumped into action. While her kids told one mother to get out and call 9-1-1, she went next door to make sure the other family’s deaf teenager was okay.

"That was really my concern because I could hear from the outside as I'm knocking I could hear the smoke detector going off and that was our main concern making sure that daughter was not home,’ said neighbor Tiffany Wooten.

That family was not home and the other mother and her two children made it out safely.

Fire crews say when they got on scene flames were shooting out the back patio and stretched up to the roof before it spread through the home and out the front.

"It was spreading pretty fast but these guys got on it really quick,” said Houston.

That’s thanks for a watchful fire crew, Engine 11.

"We were on our way back when we spotted the smoke. So we quickly pulled in and called out at the very same time that they were trying to call us,” said Lt. Matthew Clark.

Because of their quick response, the two neighboring units were saved.

One suffered smoke damage, but the family should be able to move back in.

We talked to the mother and her two children who lived in that unit. They are keeping good spirits, and are hopeful that some of their stuff will be saved.

32 firefighters battled the scene and had the fire under control in under 20 minutes. Between the two families, 9 people were displaced.

The Red Cross is helping both families affected by the fire.

And a fire crew is staying on scene all night to make sure there are no flare ups.

Investigators cannot get into the house to find a cause of the fire until the morning, because it’s too dark and unsafe for them to go inside.

Investigators tell us while the flames were coming out the back patio and caught the back yard on fire; they believe the fire started inside the townhouse.

You can count on 11 News to let you know the cause of the fire as soon as we learn it.