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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Tampa--2-Alarm Fire Raises Apartment Complex

    Tampa Tribune

    2-Alarm Blaze Ravages Apartment Complex
    By JOSH POLTILOVE jpoltilove@tampatrib.com
    Published: May 9, 2005


    TAMPA - Mark Turner used to be a firefighter, so he knew his apartment complex was ruined when he saw the massive flames and damaged roof.
    He said he was lucky, though. All his unit sustained was water and smoke damage, he said, and his biggest loss was a book collection.

    ``Compared to some of the other places, I came out smelling like a rose,'' he said.

    A two-alarm fire at Eden Apartments, 3710 W. Cass St., displaced at least 20 people Sunday and caused about $1 million in damage.

    The fire, which started in an upstairs building storage area, was under control within an hour. No injuries were reported.

    Most of the upstairs units were severely damaged. One apartment was missing its roof, and the only discernible objects inside were a burned refrigerator, fan, door and air conditioning unit.

    ``Luckily it wasn't windy outside,'' said Karen Hanley, who lives in the apartment building about 8 feet away. ``I'm very lucky. God blessed me.''

    At 1:48 a.m. Sunday, Tampa Fire Rescue units responded to the fire at the 14-unit apartment building. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Tampa fire marshal's office.

    Most of the units in the two- story building were damaged by smoke, fire and water.

    The American Red Cross is paying for nine families - a total of 16 people - to stay through Wednesday morning at a Holiday Inn Express, said Tim Teahan, a spokesman for the foundation. It also will provide an allotment for food and, depending on individual needs, clothing and shoes, he said.

    About 36 fire officers came to the fire from stations in Hyde Park, Palma Ceia, Davis Islands and West Tampa. Tampa Fire Rescue responded with six engine companies, two rescue cars, two ladder truck companies and a few chief officers.

    Sophia Collins, who also lives in the building next to Eden Apartments, said the quick response helped save lives.

    ``It's amazing how they got everyone out of the building,'' she said as she looked inside a charred unit. ``They got everyone out in the nick of time.''


    Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 835-2105.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Police Officer First on Scene

    Policeman Entered Burning Building And Saved Lives
    By JOSH POLTILOVE jpoltilove@tampatrib.com
    Published: May 10, 2005




    TAMPA - Peter Bucher didn't consider his own safety. He didn't think about his wife, two children and two stepchildren.
    In fact, the Tampa police officer said he didn't think at all when he dashed into the blazing apartment complex early Sunday morning, desperately trying to save people trapped inside.

    He just reacted.

    Bucher, who works for a police DUI unit, was on duty and among the first to spot the fire at Eden Apartments, 3710 W. Cass St.

    Fire crews hadn't arrived when a resident screamed. Someone was trapped inside an upstairs apartment.

    ``I just said to myself, `Oh my God, I need to get up there,' '' he said Monday, recounting the incident.

    He remembered running to the second-floor unit. Three people stood inside frozen in shock, seemingly unable to move. He entered the apartment, tugged one woman's arm and told her she needed to escape the flaming building.

    The fire was so hot, Bucher said, ``it just felt like my hair had melted off.''

    He could barely breathe. He knew if they didn't get out quickly, they could die.

    Bucher was reminded of the movie ``Backdraft,'' where it appeared the fires had lives of their own.

    He helped all three residents walk from the apartment, and they started down the steps.

    ``Another minute or two, and that apartment was up in flames,'' Bucher said.

    As they made their way downstairs, parts of the 14- unit building began to collapse, Tampa Police Department spokesman Joe Durkin said.

    A piece of wood hit Bucher's left shoulder soon after he made his way down the steps. His left forearm caught fire, and he slapped out the flame with his right hand.

    Several blisters bubbled up on the arm.

    After leading the three people to safety, he drove himself to Memorial Hospital.

    Doctors told him he had first- and second-degree burns to his left forearm. He was treated but not admitted.

    ``We're fortunate that we don't have a fatality among the residents,'' Durkin said. ``Without regard for his own personal safety, he helped make sure residents were evacuated safely.''

    Bucher's actions likely will ``lead to department recognition,'' Durkin said.

    The two-alarm fire displaced at least 20 people and caused about $1 million in damage. It started in an upstairs building storage area and was under control within an hour.

    Most of the upstairs units are charred and missing roofs. Few possessions were spared.

    Tampa Fire Rescue units responded to the blaze at 1:48 a.m. Sunday.

    The fire remains under investigation by the Tampa fire marshal's office.

    The American Red Cross is paying for nine families - a total of 16 people - to stay through Wednesday morning at a Holiday Inn Express, said Tim Teahan, a spokesman for the foundation. It also will provide an allotment for food and, depending on individual needs, clothing and shoes, he said.

    Though possessions were lost, lives were saved.

    ``Even if I had time to think, I still would have gone up there,'' Bucher said. ``I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I hadn't.''


    Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 835-2105.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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