SHERMAN, TX - Several people are without a home tonight after a fire destroyed an apartment building in Sherman early this morning.
No one was hurt, but fire fighters say the building might have been saved if they had gotten the call sooner.
Sherman Fire Chief Jeff Jones tells us the fire at the Post Oak Crossings Apartments on FM 1417 had about a 15 minute head start on fire fighters because the person who found it, tried to take matters into their own hands before calling them.
Twenty people lost their homes and everything inside in just minutes.
"Before we knew it the whole apartment complex, the whole building was on fire," said resident Tera Groner.
"In this case, 15 minutes could have made the difference in the loss and damage you see behind me," Sherman Fire Chief Jeff Jones said.
Chief Jones says the resident who discovered the fire tried to put it out before making the call, wasting vital seconds. Jones says by the time they arrived at Post Oak Crossing apartments, Building 4 was completely involved.
"Luckily the people in the upstairs apartments that discovered the fire, thought very quickly, and alerted those occupants and got everyone out safely," Jones said.
"Just immediately left the apartment and started waking everyone up," resident Jedidiah Kiehl says.
Kiehl says he and his roommates woke up to the smell of smoke, and when they saw flames they ran door to door, waking their neighbors up.
"Got a knock on the door about 3 o'clock this morning, heard somebody yelling 'Fire! Fire!'" said resident Tera Groner.
Groner says like many other residents, her smoke detector did not go off, and she's just glad they all made it out safely.
"It hurt watching it go up, but the way I look at it, it's just material things. If you die you, don't take it with you anyway. I'm just glad that everybody is alive and nobody got hurt," Groner said.
Jones says even with the help of the Denison, Whitesboro, and Pottsboro Fire Departments, it took them almost two hours to put the fire out. He says it started in dryer vent in an upstairs apartment.
"Apparently there was a fire in that dryer vent that extended into the attic and then into the rest of the apartments," said Jones.
And he says this fire could easily have been prevented.
"Take the extra few minutes and do some maintenance and some thought about those things that can be a hazard," Jones says.
The American Red Cross was on the scene helping the families who lost everything, and Chief Jones says the apartment management is working to place the residents in other areas of the complex.