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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Spanish Arms apartment complex at the corner of North 6th and Merchant was demolished Monday afternoon.

Firefighters and building inspectors with the city of Abilene declared the building unsafe after a large fire broke out around 3:25 a.m. Several firefighters responded to the scene when large flames and heavy smoke were seen. Xavier, a tenant, said he was in his room when he suddenly noticed smoke.

“The room was hazy and I was confused. I tried to look out the window and saw that the apartment next door was on fire. After that, I just tried to collect my cats and leave,” Xavier explained.

Magaret M. also lives there. She remembers that she was sleeping when a neighbor came and told her to go outside because the flames were spreading quickly.

“Someone was banging on my window. He was shouting ‘Fire – get out!’ Thank God that person was there. I gathered a few valuables and was able to get out,” Margaret said.

Hours later, Margaret returned to the complex to find more salvageable items, but was told she only had about 15 minutes to recover items before workers began demolishing the building. Firefighters helped residents remove furniture and other personal items.

“The folks at Spanish Arms had 15 minutes to get their lifelong possessions out of their homes that are about to be demolished. Great firefighters took apart some antiques for me and we took them with us. There are some things on the street that I’m leaving behind,” Margaret added.

Other residents had to leave behind items that could not be saved or did not have enough time to retrieve them. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the residents.

The Abilene Military Veteran Peer Networked shared on Facebook that 8 residents are veterans. They are currently hosting a fundraiser to help them get back on their feet.

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