JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An early morning apartment complex fire in Mandarin left multiple units badly damaged with 10 families in need of assistance from the Red Cross.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department said crews arrived quickly after the 5 a.m. call about the fire at the St. Augustine at the Lake apartment homes on Old St. Augustine Road.
They found fire coming from the third story of a building in the back of the complex. The fire was mostly in the attic and damaged the roof. It’s unclear where the fire started.
Around 25 units were called to fight the fire.
No residents were in the units when firefighters arrived and no injuries were reported.
Firefighters initially said six to seven units were affected either through fire damage or smoke or water damage.
The Red Cross later said 10 families -- 19 individuals total -- are in need of help because of the damage to their homes.
The Red Cross was able to meet with eight of the impacted families at the scene. They also connected with two others who were not there at the time. A big part of what they do is provide financial assistance for the families for critical emergency needs.
“If it’s you and your home, it’s a very difficult situation. And we do have several families with children and families with pets,” said Christian Smith with the American Red Cross.
Smith said this is a time of year when the Red Cross has to help more families impacted by fires. She said it’s important to have an escape plan in an emergency because the first minutes of an emergency are critical to getting out safely.
“Unfortunately, these things happen especially around this time of year,” Smith said. “Think about the 19 people that woke up this morning and had to rush out of their homes. It’s always a difficult time and it’s awfully cold today. It’s very cold today.”
Smith said no one knows yet what caused the fire but with cold temperatures, she wants to remind people that they have to warm their homes safely.
“This is that critical time when you are thinking about how they use their space heater, thinking about alternative heating sources and really being mindful of all of those necessary things,” Smith said.
She said there are things you can do in your home to be safe:
- Keep space heaters 3 feet away
- Keep materials away from the heater
- Don’t leave it on overnight
- Don’t use alternative ways to heat a home
- Make sure smoke alarms work
The state fire marshal was called to investigate the cause of the fire, which was under control before 7 a.m. Some crews remained on the scene longer to check for hot spots.
News4JAX reached out to the management company, Mid America Apartments LP, but they have not responded yet. We also requested any records the city may have in the last five years about the complex.