71-year-old says she considered climbing fence to escape fire

Woman says driveway at Calloway Cove Apartments was blocked by firefighters

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - While a fire raged at the Calloway Cove Apartments, a 71-year-old woman told News4Jax she was so afraid, she considered climbing an 8-foot fence to get off the property.

Seven people were hospitalized in the Tuesday night fire and many others rushed to safety. Pat Hilson lives in a building close to the one that caught fire.

Hilson said she wanted to leave the property, but that she was caught between the burning building and the 8-foot security fence at the back of the property. Hilson said the driveway was blocked by firefighters, so she called a relative.

"I told her, 'I got to get out of here. There's no way out of here,'" Hilson said. "I feared for my life."

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Hilson said walking to the front of the property would have been difficult, but if she had to leave,

"I was going to climb," Hilson said. "I had already put on my heavy shoes and was getting ready to climb that fence."

The driveway is the only entrance and exit at the apartment complex.

"Maybe another gate would help," Hilson said. "I pray to God they will see where they need another gate that could cut through to the next road."

After speaking to Hilson, News4Jax requested comment from Millennia Housing Management, the company that owns the property. It was after business hours and no one was available. The company released a statement earlier in the day, addressing its efforts to help residents.

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