Residents were displaced but not injured when a fire started at Pinecrest Apartments on Nov. 3 originating from burning weeds.
The Williams Police Department responded to a report of the smell of smoke at the apartments, at 801 E. Rodeo Road, at about 6:40 p.m. that night. The Williams Fire Department also responded to the call.
The police report gave the following account of the incident:
Upon arrival, officers saw flames on the north side of the apartment building at the base of the wall in a corner area, indicating a flame was active inside the wall.
Police officers notified fire personnel and then evacuated residents from buildings F and G, which consist of eight units total.
Officers also reported seeing a black burn along the entire northern perimeter of the building. A witness told officers she saw a maintenance worker burning weeds in that area at about 5:30 that evening. Officers had also seen a maintenance employee burning weeds with a propane torch and bottle earlier that day.
The witness told officers that the day before, a bush had caught fire near another building while the maintenance worker was burning weeds under the bush.
In determining the cause of the apartment fire, Fire Captain Kevin Shulte found a burned 2 x 4 near the concrete slab of one of the lower apartments' bathroom. According to the police report, the fire "(worked) up from that point into the interior wall of the apartment. The fire traveled up the studs inside the wall entering the upper apartment...The cause was clearly from the application of an exterior heat source from outside the building."
Lieutenant Darrell Hixson, who responded to the fire, believed three of the apartments would have to be completely renovated since the fire department had to cut holes in the roof and the side of the building.
"It really wasn't a lot of flame damage as much as it was extensive smoke damage, because it was more of a smoldering type of fire within the walls," he said. "And of course they had water damage too."
The fire displaced about eight residents, who stayed with friends or at Motel 6. Local churches also helped the displaced residents.
"Everyone kind of stepped up," Hixson said.
Police officers secured the building until morning when the residents could reclaim their property.