Fallout continues after 5-alarm fire guts Midtown St. Louis apartment building


by KMOV.com staff


Posted on July 24, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 1:09 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Investigators are still looking for the cause of a massive fire that destroyed the 3949 Apartments on Lindell last week.

For Louis Vaca and his wife, Israel, it was like déjà vu as movers hauled their property from the apartments.

Three short weeks ago they arrived in St. Louis with a truck packed, boxes full and anticipation high for life in a new city.

“You move from Boston, you find a nice place, and you’re thinking, ‘we’ve got it, here we go,’ right, it’s just kind of a shock. I think we still just don’t believe everything that’s happened.” said Vaca.

After witnessing the destruction, the couple feels fortunate to even have anything to move, much less the majority of their belongings.

“I came back from work, it was about 7 p.m. The fire alarm rang and living in apartments my whole life I thought, ‘just another false alarm.’ The second we got out of the apartment we smelled smoke and you knew it was real,” added Vaca.

Of the salvageable apartments remaining, 3949’s management team says almost 70 residents have made appointments to move out.

Close to 35 residents have moved out in just two days. That list now includes Louis and Israel.

Vaca said he still wants to live on Lindell, but hopes to be closer to the hospital.

Another issue was that people’s cars were stranded under the apartments when the fire broke out. Residents were left wondering when they’d be able to pick them up.

“Even more frustrating I would imagine is the fact you can see it, it’s right there, but you can’t do anything about it,” said resident George Frattarelli. “We can see it. We don’t know if there’s damage to it.”

But Tuesday, all those prayers and all that patience was rewarded.

As luck would have it for Frattareilli and others with cars at the facility, the city finally deemed the area safe enough for people to enter. With help from building management, they’ve got their cars back.

“I’m glad no one was hurt, I’m glad they’re willing to help assist the residents and I’m glad I can finally get some sort of closure as to what’s been going on,” said resident Charlotte Tyus.