Young Hero in Hillcrest Apartment Fire - South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Young Hero in Hillcrest Apartment Fire

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A fire broke out in an apartment building on the intersection of Stillman and Hulbirt St., in the Hillcrest neighborhood, early Wednesday morning. There were 10 adults and eight children living in the building.

No one was injured, but the blaze did some damage.

The American Red Cross is putting two adults and four children in a hotel for two nights. Fire investigators believe someone set the fire intentionally, but they don't know who did it, or how it was done.

Nathealoe Jones, 14-year old student at Baker Middle School, was awake when the fire started, at around 1:40 a.m. Wednesday. He was able to get his family of seven out the door before they were injured.

"They were all asleep and I heard all the racket," Jones said. "I thought it was them banging on the windows, so I went by the window and heard, 'It's on fire!' So I went to tell them."

The fire started in the back bedroom of the unit next door. Crews said when they arrived to the complex flames had already engulfed that unit.

"When I got here, the back door and front door were all open," said Michael Schmidt, Corpus Christi Fire Department battalion chief. "You could see flames all the way through the actual apartment."

Investigators are not exactly sure how the fire started, but believe it could be the work of an arsonist.

"The person who was supposed to be living in this apt was seen here earlier, but apparently there was issue with eviction or whatever, so we do have investigators coming out to verify if it was accidental, or whatever caused the fire," Schmidt said.

"It wasn't the woman that used to stay there, because that place was vacant," said Artis Gould, a next door neighbor. "She can hardly walk. She got emphysema."

"She hasn't been there in days," said Sonya Maxwell, another resident of the apartment building. "That's what we're trying to tell everybody. She hasn't been there in days. The woman was found walking down Leopard Street. She didn't even know the apartment was on fire. She came over here after the fact. After they finally calmed her down, she came over here and had another panic attack."

A man and woman were reported to have been seen in the area at the time of the fire.

Sonya Maxwell said she also helped alert others when the fire began, after being one of the first people to notice it.

"I was sitting there helping my roommate cleanup and we just kept smelling something burning, and she couldn't breath."

Thanks to the work of a couple of regular heroes, and firefighters, no one was injured. Police have yet to make any arrests, and they said they are still trying to track down the landlord for questioning.