Authorities have released the names of the three victims who died in the apartment fire last week in downtown Killeen.
Kristy Moncrief, 33, Seth M. Soulsby, 19, and Christopher M. Sroka, 21, died after a fire started in a downstairs apartment in the 1300 block of North Gray Street, Killeen Police Department said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Both male victims were Fort Hood soldiers originally from Ohio, according to the Army.
Soulsby, who entered the military in June of 2011, served in the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood.
Sroka, who entered the military in February, served in the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Sroka had moved into the upstairs unit directly above Moncrief’s apartment Thursday and the fire began around midnight that same night, neighbor Charlie Manies said.
Killeen Fire Chief J.D. Gardner called the disaster the biggest fire in recent history.
“This fire is going to stick with the people in the area for a long time,” Gardner said. “The fact that there were fatalities and people were injured, it certainly impacts the first responders. It bothers the firefighters.”
The downtown building was permanently destroyed, and on the night of the fire, 29 residents were taken to a temporary shelter at the Killeen Community Center under the care of the American Red Cross.
By Saturday evening, the Red Cross was able to close the shelter because all of the families had found alternative housing.
The manager of the destroyed apartment building reportedly found units in other apartment buildings for eight of the families, said Sara Kennedy, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. Most of the other families moved in with friends or family members.
Kennedy spoke of a wave of support from the community after the disaster, including free food brought to families by local restaurants, donations of clothes and furniture and a Killeen hotel that gave free housing to two of the displaced families.
The Red Cross is not releasing the name of the hotel out of respect for the victims’ privacy.
“It is certainly much more comfortable to be able to stay in a hotel or with family than a shelter,” Kennedy said.
Although the fire is out, more recovery will be needed for the families, most of whom lost all of their belongings.
The Killeen Salvation Army is spearheading the effort to provide families with essential goods, which are in short supply because of the demand.
“The big need is going to be beds,” Corps Officer for the Salvation Army Cris Bryant said. “People can live without a couch or without watching TV for a while, but people can’t live without a bed.”
The nonprofit gives vouchers to needy families to purchase goods, however, the funding for this program is running low, Bryant said.
Contact Brandon Janes at email@example.com or (254) 501-7552