AUSTIN (KXAN) — At least two people are dead after a fire at a home in east Austin. A third person has been taken to the hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries. Three others have minor injuries and are being treated at the scene.
Those six people were the only ones in the home at the time, according to the Austin Fire Department, which said it made an “aggressive entry” into the home to try to rescue those inside.
The fire sparked around 11 a.m. at a home on East 12th Street between North Pleasant Valley Road and Airport Boulevard.
Both AFD and Austin-Travis County EMS responded. EMS says it has four ambulances there.
Austin firefighters now have the fire under control, but haven’t announced a cause of the fire yet. Texas Gas Service inspectors were on scene after the flames were extinguished, inspecting the home.
“No power, nothing. No electricity, nothing. It has been cold, you know?” said James Anyaegbu, who rents the attached apartment in the back of the building. “I opened my door and the people leaving out the back told me to get out of the house, that the house was on fire.”
Anyaegbu said that the people living there had let others come inside during the bitter cold. He said they had been using the gas stove to keep warm.
“It’s dangerous,” Anyaegbu admitted. “It’s dangerous to heat up the place with a stove.
The Austin Fire Department has responded to hundreds of calls over the past few days. The fire chief on-scene advised against using gas stoves and barbecue grills inside to keep warm. He said that some people are even lighting fires indoors.
“If you cannot warm yourself with blankets or any other heating device, we are going to ask that you go to a warming shelter or to a friend’s house,” said Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Wade.
“The first responders are exhausted, but this is what we do,” Wade said. “Our firefighters have worked for days some of them… but we are still coming.”
Austin Fire says there were no smoke detectors inside of the home.
KXAN will update this story with more information as it becomes available.