Cigarette ruled cause of Hartford Place apartment fire in Abilene

Cigarette cause of Hartford Place apartment complex fire

ABILENE, Texas - The improper disposal of a cigarette has been ruled the cause of a Saturday morning fire at a south Abilene apartment complex.

The smoke and flames emanating from a Hartford Place apartment unit on South Clack Street were reported around 11 a.m. Though the original damage estimate provided at the scene was $25,000, an Abilene Fire Department statement released around 4:40 p.m. listed the damage at $12,000.

With the help of other bystanders, a man pulled a woman out of the engulfed second story unit before firefighters were able to respond. Firefighters said she and another man were residents of the unit.

One of them did receive minor injuries and was treated at the scene; however, a cat perished in the flames. The surrounding apartments in the complex were evacuated as a precaution.

KTXS talked with the men who helped saved the woman from the burning building.

"I was on the back holder at the Volkswagon dealership and saw black smoke coming off the porch above the building and I jumped off the back hold and ran over here and seen that there was a fire so I started beating on doors," said Rocky Watson, the first person on the scene.

His coworker, Stacey Karnes, was the second person on the scene and helped pull the woman out of her window to safety after bystanders formed a human ladder to reach the window.

"All the sudden we heard the glass break from upstairs and we heard a woman start hollering 'help, help,'" Karnes said. "I started breaking out the rest of the glass and pulling out the screen and I grabbed a hold of her and I hollered at the guys below 'man, y'all got us?' and they said 'yeah,' so me and her just came on down."

Though Abilene firefighters said it can be a double-edged sword when civilians aid victims of emergencies, the actions of bystanders benefited everybody.

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