Man Killed in Florida Explosion, Fire

Fire investigators said the two alarm fire was so intense that flames were shooting out of the roof.


SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. --

Early Friday morning, a man was killed in a condo fire in Seminole County. Fire investigators said the two alarm fire was so intense that flames were shooting out of the roof when they got to the Lake Of The Woods condos.

Witnesses said one family of good Samaritans rushed through the complex banging on doors to help save people. The family ran from door to door after they heard a loud explosion.

"A neighbor, thank god for the neighbor, came running and was just ringing my doorbell and ringing my doorbell. At first I thought it was a prank or something and I didn't want to let him in," said Helen Schweickart, a resident in the condos.

Schweickart was very thankful that one of her neighbors woke her up in the middle of the night. The neighbor was trying to warn people about a devastating fire that destroyed a condo and everything inside.

"So when I walked out it was just this huge billow of black clouds, you know. And then just seeing the flames shooting out of the roof I was just, like, oh my god," Schweickart added.

It was an explosion, there was a 'boom' and it sounded like a transformer going off," said Rex Cowart, who also lives in the condo complex.

Cowart was watching TV with his wife and son. He said before he could put on his shirt and shorts his son had already called 911 and was going door to door.

Firefighters showed up minutes later.

"They went in to actually fight the fire and they also do searches while they are in there and, unfortunately, they did find a victim," said Paula Ritchey of the Seminole County Fire Department.

Victims are what Jerry Hendrix was trying to prevent. He said when he saw the flames shooting through the front windows of the unit he knew he had to do something about it.

"We got to watch out for each other. When this happens you gotta let people know," Hendrix said. "I mean it could have been a lot worse. Instead of one person being pulled out of the burning building, it could have been numerous."

An investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office was going through the entire building trying to figure out how the fire started. The victim was believed to be in his fifties. The medical examiner was on the way to the scene to identify him.

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