Desmond Taylor was unsure of his next step after a Killeen apartment fire displaced his family of five Saturday afternoon.
“I don’t even know what we are going to do,” he said after surveying the remains of his apartment — all of which he said were unsalvageable. “My kids don’t even have shoes on their feet.”
The Killeen and Fort Hood fire departments responded to a call at 2:36 p.m. at the Summer Park Apartments in the 1700 block of North College Street. All but one of Killeen’s engines were dispatched to the blaze, said Ken Hawthorne, Killeen’s deputy fire chief.
The fire began in the second floor, corner apartment of the two-story building. There were 10 apartments in the building and nine were occupied. All residents are temporarily displaced and the cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.
Firefighters fought the flames for about an hour, Hawthorne said. While no residents were injured, two firefighters were — one from the heat and another after stepping on a nail.
The ceilings in each of the five second-floor apartments were knocked out to ensure there was no fire in the attic space.
“They are going to be able to repair (the building),” Hawthorne said. “Structural damage was limited to one end.”
Gerardo Andrade lived next door to the apartment where the fire started. He was home watching TV when he began to smell smoke and went outside to see what was happening.
“I saw flames coming out of the window,” he said.
Andrade and a friend were able to get out safely along with his roommate’s four small dogs.
Hours after the fire was out, he sat on the curb also unsure what his next move would be.
“I’ll figure something out,” Andrade said.
Officials opened the Killeen Community Center as a temporary shelter for those displaced by the fire. Local chapters of the Red Cross and the NAACP met people at the center to provide comfort and support.
TaNeika Driver-Moultrie, president of the local NAACP, said volunteers provided clothes, formula, basic hygiene items and food. She said they planned to rotate volunteers through the night to continue to help.
Taylor, who moved into the apartment about three weeks ago, lived three doors down from the start of the fire. He said the family already completed their back-to-school shopping and lost all his children’s new clothes and supplies.
“It’s bad right now,” he said.
Despite the hardship, he said neighbors are coming together and providing support for one another.
“We didn’t even know each other, but now we’re all close,” Taylor said.