1 hurt, many displaced in high-rise fire near downtown Fort Worth

Posted Monday, Mar. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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One person suffered smoke inhalation and was transported to a hospital after a fire at the Westchester Plaza high-rise apartments Sunday morning, Fort Worth fire officials said.

The fire ignited on the fourth floor of the 11-story building shortly after 6:30 a.m., and was contained by the automatic sprinkler system to a public area where it started, according to the fire department. Smoke permeated the assisted-living center at 554 S. Summit Ave.

Fort Worth fire units arrived within minutes of the alarm. Firefighters evacuated everybody on the fourth and fifth floors. They were moved to the lobby and kept out of the cold, said Lt. Carol Jones of the Fort Worth Fire Department. Temperatures reached the high 30s early Sunday morning, with wind chills hovering around freezing at 9 a.m.

In all, about 200 people were either evacuated or chose to leave their apartments, Jones said.

One resident suffered minor smoke inhalation and was transported by MedStar to a local hospital, Battalion Chief Richard Harrison said in a news release.

"Today's greatest challenge was to safely evacuate occupants out of harm's way while not exposing them to this morning's bitter weather," Harrison said in the release.

The Red Cross assisted with water and blankets.

The fire was under control by 7:24 a.m. Sunday, Jones said. The cause is still being investigated.

The blaze was in a public area of the fourth floor where chairs and tables are in place for residents, said an official with the management company of the center.

"The staff performed flawlessly," said Jeff Bryant, president of Phoenix Health Resources, which manages Westchester Plaza. "The evacuation was done in a peaceful and orderly manner."

By 10 a.m. Sunday, residents had returned to their apartments, Bryant said.

About 30 fire units were called to the scene because the fire was at a high-rise building and required evacuations, fire officials said.

Staff writer Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.

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554 S. Summit Ave., Fort Worth, TX
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