Massive fire engulfs apartment building in Central El Paso

Fire Destroys Building

EL PASO, Texas - Thursday night, Hector "El Pipo" Barragan went to bed expecting to wake up and head to mass Friday morning.

Instead he was awoken in the middle of the night and told his life's work was burning to the ground in Central El Paso.

"That's my life," Barragan said. "that was my whole life right there. I don't know what to do. I'm too old to get started over again."

Barragan is the owner of the building that was destroyed Friday morning.

On the bottom floor he ran Pipo Academy of Hair Design and upstairs there were 10 apartments where two of his sons lived. Three other apartments were occupied, too.

Four people made it out of the burning building on their own. Two were rescued when firefighters climbed up a ladder and helped them out of their windows on the second floor. According to El Paso Fire Department spokesman George De La Torre, the people were waving hands out of their windows as fire fighters arrived.

One person was taken to a local hospital. They have since been transferred to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

"The building is going to be a total loss, it will probably be demolished soon," said De La Torre.

The building's owner said it wasn't just four walls. For Barragan, it was a life's work.

"I don't know what to do, I'm too old to get started over again," said Barragan as he sat in a nearby barbershop.

The fire began just after 3:30 a.m. near the intersection of Raynor Street and Pershing Street. Nearby residents reported seeing flames shooting as high as 50 feet in the air and feeling the heat from as far as a mile away.

Kevin Burch, a retired veteran who lived in the building, declined to talk on camera. Burch told ABC-7 that he was pressed to leave so quickly that he didn't even have time to take his shoes. He had a new pair paid for by money from the Red Cross. He said he would be staying at a nearby Motel 6 until he figured things out.

Firefighters were not allowed into the building due to issues with the structure's integrity.  As a result, a cause for the fire may never be known.

Damages to the building are estimated at $200,000.

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