Frustration is mounting and time is running out for dozens of families displaced in the devastating apartment explosion Wednesday in south Dallas.
A number of displaced tenants at the Highland Hills apartment complex were able to return to their homes on Friday and collect all of their belongings within 20 minutes.
More than 200 people have been evicted from their homes.
The displaced residents were accommodated in two hotels in downtown Dallas, including the Fairfield Inn. Vouchers provided by the city’s emergency management service were valid for three days. Residents expressed frustration on Friday morning, saying they had nowhere to go after Saturday.
Then late Friday afternoon, the city announced that “the Dallas Emergency Management Office has extended hotel stays for residents to at least all weekend as the office works with the property. on the restoration of public services “.
Dallas firefighters were called to the apartment complex just before 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to investigate a possible gas leak.
As firefighters investigated the smell, part of the building exploded.
Eight people were injured, including three firefighters who remained hospitalized with serious injuries including burns.
Dallas Fire-Rescue said Friday the firefighters are in critical but stable condition, and that “DFR remains optimistic about their results.”
Fire investigators continued to comb through the rubble to determine the cause of the explosion.
Members of the Fire Marshal’s office took several photographs of a white door and a mutilated stove found in the debris on Thursday.
Several residents told NBC 5 that they smelled natural gas in the days before the explosion and reported it to their apartment management.
Jason Evans, a spokesperson for DFR, said it would likely take a long time to determine the cause of the explosion.
Tenants gathered on Friday to express their frustration with the way the situation has been handled as well as their concern that their hotel vouchers are only valid until Saturday.
Stepheny Leavy said she was told other buildings may be demolished as well.
“If they want to demolish the apartment complex, then where are we going?” Where are they going to put us, ”she asked.
Several nonprofits are showing up to help distribute donations, including For Oak Cliff, American Black Cross, and Not My Son.
Not My Son has been named as the primary nonprofit group to help affected residents, according to the group.
Tenants like Audelia Camarillo say that while they had little or no communication from the management of their apartment, the October rent was taken from her bank account.
MP Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents the region, documented the damage on Friday.
“I certainly understand their frustration a lot and am doing everything I can to locate them,” said Rep. Johnson. “We have to wait until the investigation is complete before we can determine who is at fault, but we have to help people get somewhere. Right now they’re in hotels and the city is footing the bill. The question arises as to whether we can proceed with this indictment so that we work on where they can be safely placed. “
Rahim Budwani’s house is one of those destroyed in the building that exploded. He, like several residents, claims to have reported the smell of natural gas long before the explosion, but nothing was done.
He says he has yet to hear from the management of the apartment.
“You don’t give us information for the insurance agency, you don’t give us information about what’s going on,” he said of the apartments. “The city of Dallas needs to shut everything down, even Mountain Creek, and find out what’s going on.”
The Not My Son group accepts donations, including new clothes, food and toiletries, including adult diapers and feminine products.
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