Fire at empty West Campus apartment displaces some students, Austin Fire officials say


Photo Credit: Jamie Hwang | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated.

The Austin Fire Department responded to a fire and evacuated residents at a West Campus condominium complex, Monday evening.

AFD announced on Twitter that the fire had been “knocked down” at 7:29 p.m. Monday.

AFD division chief Stephen Truesdell said the fire started in an unoccupied apartment at 2815 Rio Grande Street undergoing renovations and spread through the wall from the second to third floor.

“Crews went and made an interior attack, got the fire knocked down,” Truesdell said. “We're just overhauling, making sure all the hidden fire in the void spaces is out.”

Truesdell said although no one was living in the unit where the fire started, people living in nearby apartments will be displaced for at least a couple of days.

Business sophomore Donovan Josey, who lives at Gazebo Condos, said he had no idea there was a fire. He said he was sitting at home playing Xbox when he started hearing banging downstairs.

“I was like, ‘Are we getting robbed? What is going on?’” Josey said. “We opened the door and there were a bunch of fire fighters outside, and we just came down here.”

Josey said he lived close to the apartment that caught fire but did not smell any smoke or sense anything wrong before his apartment building was evacuated.

“The worst for our apartment was the door if they had to break it down,” Josey said. “But I don't think they did because it was unlocked.”

Studio art senior Sullivan Meservey, a Gazebo Condos resident, said she sensed something was off before firefighters asked her to evacuate.

“I smelled something for quite a while, but … we heard commotion and we thought it was maybe a frat party down the alleyway, but when we open the door, there's firefighters all upstairs,” Meservey said.

Civil engineering junior William Stegemeier, who also lives at Gazebo Condos, said he assumed the fire was in a different apartment complex as he evacuated because he didn’t smell any smoke.

“When firemen came towards our apartments with hoses, then I realized I should probably leave,” Stegemeier said.

Stegemeier said he felt anxious while he waited outside his apartment complex to see if his apartment suffered any damages.