Florida Condo Fire Leaves Six Families Homeless

April 12, 2009
Six families were homeless after a fire destroyed their condominium building in Orange County.

ORLANDO, Fla. --

Six families were homeless on Sunday after a fire destroyed their condominium building in Orange County.

Several families said they lost everything in the fire in the Colonial Lakes subdivision.

The building is still standing, but part of the roof was destroyed and windows were blown out.

Jonathan Andino lived in the condo unit at the end of the building. He said he thought his pregnant wife and their 17-month-old son were still inside.

"I came back running toward the apartment and three or four firefighters stopped me," Andino said.

Firefighters had already gotten Andino's family out, and the also pulled out his disabled neighbor. The neighbor said the firefighters came so quickly that he didn't even have time to put on a shirt.

"I smelled something very strange," she said.

Keturah Henderson said she and her friend ran outside of her condo when they smelled something strange and then saw smoke.

"There was smoke coming up underneath the door," she said.

"All of a sudden, I see smoke coming out," Roderic Hodge said.

Fire ripped through two condos and 13 others have smoke damage.

"We are looking at about six families displaced," said Orange County Battalion Chief David Provau. "Of the six families displaced, most of them say they had smoke detectors that were just installed a month ago, but they didn't work."

"Nothing even went off, so it's like, what was the point in doing that and having them approve it if it's not safe to live in?" Scott Blackmon said. "I looked up at the alarm and it wasn't going off. I came down the stairs and the whole side of the building was on fire."

Provau said the state fire marshal's office is looking into why the alarms didn't sound.

"Before they leave they will have working detectors that we will put in," Provau said.

Meanwhile, Andino said he's working on finding a new place to live. But he said on Easter Sunday, he was just thankful.

"I got my family," Andino said. "I got my life. I just care about my son and wife, that's all."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

After crews finished fighting this fire, they packed up and moved to another fire at a home about 10 minutes away.

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