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Hundreds Searching For Homes After Deadly San Marcos Apartment Fire

Camille Phillips
Texas Public Radio
The massive fire started early Friday at Iconic Village Apartments, then spread to Vintage Pads Apartments nearby in San Marcos.

The deadly apartment fire in San Marcos has left the college town reeling as Texas State University heads into the fall semester.

It’s also left around 200 people, many of them students, without a place to stay.

The Iconic Village apartment complex, where the fire started, was built in 1970. It was not equipped with a sprinkler system, which met building standards at the time.

“There is no retroactive clause in the fire codes that require a building to go back and put sprinklers in,” said San Marcos Fire Marshall  Kelly Kistner. “Today, the city of San Marcos is under the 2015 International Fire Code and even in that code, there is no provision that requires retrofitting.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Standing outside a resource center Wednesday, Texas State graduate student Lindsey Rooker said she’s lucky because she has a place to stay. She was housesitting Friday when her apartment at the nearby Vintage Pads caught fire.

While Rooker and her dog are safe, she was left with just a few changes of clothes. She said she had lost everything else — and has to come up with the money for a down payment on a new place to live.

“I’m a little stressed. I lost my social security card. I lost a lot of things that both my grandparents made for me, and I don’t know if I’ll get to get those back,” Rooker said.

She added: “The food bank has been a really big help because food costs a lot when you need to make a down payment on an apartment. My job — they’ve started a collection of furniture for me, even though I don’t have a place to put it yet.

“There’s just a lot of support out there, and it’s really helpful when suddenly the rug gets pulled out from under you.”

Credit Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
The massive fire started early Friday at Iconic Village Apartments, then spread to the nearby Vintage Pads Apartments in San Marcos.

The American Red Cross and Texas State University are putting up many of the survivors temporarily.

Barbara Breier, vice president for university advancement, said students who survived the fire are being provided with meal cards and campus housing until the end of the summer session.

“It’s a terrible tragedy all around,” Breier said.

Kathryn Wieser, assistant dean of students, said her office has helped about 40 students so far.

“We’re making sure that students are connecting with the counseling center here, emergency funding, absence notifications if they’re in summer classes,” Wieser said.

Rooker is using those emergency funds, plus $350 she got back from her old apartment complex, to start searching for a new place to live.

Investigators confirmed the deaths of five victims Monday, but have not released their names. Several others were injured.

A donations page has identified one of the victims as Dru Estes, a 2016 graduate of Roosevelt High School in San Antonio.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.