By Ashley Lopez
A longstanding Ocala (FL) wood-frame building that had been turned into a multi-family dwelling was heavily damaged earlier this week after two fires occurred at the location within five hours.
The first fire occurred at 4:16 a.m. on Sunday, Ocala Fire Rescue (OFR) responded to reports of a structure fire at 703 SE Broadway Street, where smoke was showing from the eaves of the west side unit. Upon arrival, Engine 1 personnel advanced into the apartment in search of the seat of the fire, while Rescue 1 personnel worked to ensure that no residents were inside. Engines 3 and 5 assisted with extinguishing the fire and cooling off the roof. The fire was reported extinguished at 4:39 a.m.
Preliminary investigation of the fire, which originated in the restroom and extended up into the attic, indicated the fire was likely electrical in nature. The apartment was deemed uninhabitable.
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All OFR units were cleared from scene by 6:08 a.m., only to return at 9:16 a.m. when a second fire at the same apartment was spotted by a driver in the area. This time, flames were seen burning through the roof.
Engines 1, 3, and 5, Tower 1, Rescue 1, and Battalion Chief 11 responded to the scene where a working fire was in progress. Firefighters from Engines 1 and 5 worked on extinguishing the attic fire on the west side, while Tower 1 and Engine 3 made access to the attic from the east side apartment to extinguish the remaining fire in the attic space.
No injuries were reported from either fire, but the damage to the structure left four individuals without a home.
The cause of each fire is still under investigation.
Ashely Lopez is the public information officer for Ocala (FL) Fire Rescue.