WFFD continuing investigation of Clark House Apartments fire

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Witnesses said they saw someone behind an apartment building that caught fire on Monday in Wichita Falls, shortly before the blaze erupted. Firefighters are investigating if someone intentionally burned down that building.

Neighbors were worried and some were in a sheer panic because they weren’t sure if the fire was going to spread to their homes or not. One man said he was on his way home from voting when he saw the smoke.

“When I left out of there, I noticed the smoke coming from this area here and I just thought ‘I hope that is not my house,’” Dennis Riley, resident said.

An investigation is underway after a fire ripped through the Clark House Apartments. Wichita Falls Fire Department officials aren’t sure what caused the fire, but the possibility of a person starting it is on the table.

“We have got a couple of eyewitnesses who have placed a person on scene,” WFFD Fire Marshal Cody Melton said. “We don’t have any more information that that, we don’t know who it is.”

Officials have ruled out the possibility of an electrical or gas issue because there are no active utilities in the complex.

“We are kind of thinking it was probably a person who started it, whether it was intentional or accidental we don’t know at this time,” Melton said.

The apartment complex was recently bought by investors and they had already begun work on renovating the building, but officials said that the building is no longer salvageable.

“I am not sure if they had already started demolition on the inside, so there was open walls and things to help the fire spread much quicker than it normally would, but yes I believe it is a total loss,” Melton said. “I think we will be looking to see it get completely demolished.”

While the damage has been done, residents said it could have ended a lot worse if it wasn’t for the quick response from the fire department.

“The response of the fire department was very good,” Riley said. “They were here lickity split. I thanked them for what they had done because I hate to think of what it would have been like if they hadn’t been there.”

This is an ongoing investigation and Melton said the investigator in charge of this fire is expected to come back and present the information of their findings on Thursday, but if residents have any additional info to call the Wichita Falls Fire Department.