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Firefighter hospitalized after blaze damages 20 units at Southside apartment complex

Red Cross called after dozens of firefighters battle 2-alarm fire at complex on Paradise Island Boulevard

Red Cross called after dozens of firefighters battle 2-alarm fire at complex on Paradise Island Boulevard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A firefighter was hospitalized after about 20 units were damaged in a two-alarm fire Sunday afternoon at an apartment complex on the city’s Southside, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said.

JFRD Capt. Eric Proswimmer said crews were called about 12:45 p.m. to the fire at the complex on Paradise Island Boulevard, near the intersection of Southside Boulevard and Baymeadows Road. When firefighters arrived about five minutes later, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the backside of one of the buildings at the complex. That’s where Proswimmer said it’s believed the fire started.

Proswimmer said crews began to attack the fire, but because the flames were coming from the roof and the trusses were an issue, a second alarm fire was declared just after 1 p.m. and firefighters were pulled out of the building out of concern for their safety. Firefighters then began to attack the flames from above, shooting water into the building.

JFRD announced about 2:30 p.m. that the fire was under control. Aerial video from JFRD appeared to show that the majority of the building’s roof had collapsed.

According to JFRD, a firefighter was taken to a hospital after being hit by a falling object. Proswimmer said no other injuries were reported among the 70 first responders at the scene.

Firefighters said a dog and a cat were rescued from the apartments, but at last check, one dog was still missing, Proswimmer said.

He said about 20 units were affected by the fire, and the Red Cross responded to the complex to help the families who were living in those units.

Several young men at the apartment complex told News4Jax that they saw the flames, ran inside the building and knocked on doors to help get people out. Even though smoke was billowing from the building, according to good Samaritans, they did not hear alarms going off.

“It started to get bigger as soon as we got up the stairs. We knocked on the door and nobody was answering. And then we went to the back of the apartment and saw the fire coming out the porch, and once we couldn’t get into the door, we just pulled the fire alarms because no fire alarms were on,” Steven Deason said. “We went through the whole apartment complex and beat on every door.”

When asked whether he could comment on the alarms during a media briefing, Proswimmer said: “No, actually, I can’t. Usually, you know, I’ve been walking around the scene. Usually, we do see and hear alarms, but I haven’t heard any.”

“At first, you just don’t think it’s real, like maybe it was a mistake or something, but once you smell and hear the other sounds, it starts really setting in that this is a real,” said Curtis King, who lives in the apartment complex.

Linda Walter lives in the building right next to where the fire broke out.

“Very scary because I didn’t know what to do. Luckily people were very nice to me, making sure that in case I needed to run that they would help me because I can’t run,” said Walter.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. The fire marshal is investigating.

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It appeared part of the roof of the apartment building collapsed.

About the Authors:

Florida-born multi-media journalist pays special attention to issues in St. Johns County.

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.