AUSTIN (KXAN) - Forced from their homes after a massive fire tore through an Austin complex on Thursday, 16 residents of the International Residence Apartments spent the night at the Northwest Fellowship Church's shelter.
Authorities said that more than 200 evacuees registered with the Red Cross in case they need help later on.
The fire at the apartments just east of U.S. 183 an south of Lakeline Boulevard turned 68 units into a pile of rubble, and turns scores of lives upside down just as the holidays approached.
"The Red Cross has just been a blessing to all of us, to my neighbors," said Garrett Scrutchens, who lived at the complex. "I came and got a few of them this morning that their cars are still trapped in the tragedy and the Red Cross has blessed is with food and kept us warm and they fed us not only fed our bellies but our spirits"
Brothers Erick and Julio Rodriguez also were among the newly homeless.
"We left and grabbed everything we could," Erick said.
With only a few suitcases in hand, they rushed to an American Red Cross Shelter headquarters set up down the street.
"They've been great," he said."They've even given us a debit card to go buy food, clothes, and whatever else we need."
At the shelter on Friday morning, breakfast was served and buses were on hand to shuttle people where they needed to go. Most of the evacuees were able to find a warm bed with friends and family.
Tracy Smith was inspired to give after getting word of the fires. Friday, she packed her car with toys and necessities for families.
"My heart breaks for the families," she said. "You can't take away the pain but you can help."
How to help
The Austin Disaster Relief Network is also accepting donations for the residents affected by the apartment fire.
The distribution center is at:
Hill Country Church of Nazarene
1750 Baghdad Road
Cedar Park, TX 78613
Hours of operation for Distribution Center: Friday 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Donations of non-perishable food and new or gently used clothing only will be accepted at this location. Large items or furniture will not be received at this time.
ADRN has set up Hotlines at our Call Center for general information, donations, and where disaster victims can seek assistance:
ADRN VICTIM HOTLINE 512-331-2600
ADRN PUBLIC HOTLINE 512-331-2200
Mack Brown's attorney and the university's new athletics director say the Texas coach has not resigned, denying a report that Brown was ready to step down after 16 seasons with the Longhorns.
A large majority of the crowd that poured into Austin City Hall on Tuesday night was disappointed with the Parks and Recreation Department's decision to approve a smaller off leash area at Auditorium Shores.
The top prosecutor in Travis County found herself on the witness stand Tuesday to answer questions about her professional and personal history along with her history of alcohol.
A proposal to build a highway in south Austin is getting mixed reviews from neighbors.
An Austin man has been convicted in a human smuggling case in which a teen says she was forced to wear revealing clothes and sexually assaulted while bound for New Jersey.
An historic early December cold spell is slowly waning, but temperatures will remain well below average for a couple more days.