With the arrival of the month of March, public safety professionals in Jacksonville can immediately feel a level of anticipation and excitement unlike any other time of the year: it's time yet again for another edition of Guns 'n' Hoses! This charity boxing event between firefighters and police officers will celebrate a lovely 10th anniversary in this year's edition scheduled for Saturday, March 8 beginning at 7 p.m. in the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. With nearly 800,000 dollars raised for charity since the event's humble inception at the Shrine Auditorium a decade ago, the determination of the overall winning team is obviously not the most important or significant aspect of the event. (Right!)
Following the conclusion to the month of February that saw a sizeable Second Alarm apartment fire on Sunbeam Road, the firefighters of the JFRD were once again thrown into a similar environment on Saturday, March 1, when a Second Alarm assignment was needed for a blaze at the Plantation Apartments. Located at 7061 Old Kings Road, units arrived at the scene just before 3:30 a.m. and discovered that Apartment Building #26, consisting of two groups of 4, three bedroom apartments, was heavily involved on the northern portion of the building. With brick construction and a firewall impeding the progression of the fire throughout the entire two story structure, Command had ample time to cram both aerial ladders from 44 and 21 into the parking area in front of the apartment and, in a similar vein to the recent Sunbeam Road apartment fire, utilized a combination attack of interior handlines and ladder pipes to subdue the fire. Unfortunately, significant fire, water and smoke damage occurred in the directly impacted northern apartments, as all four of these were completely destroyed resulting in 38 people being displaced from their homes. To make matters worse, the displaced individuals were the locally well-known 'Lost Boys of the Sudan,' refugees who had escaped their war torn country a few years ago and found a new home here in Jacksonville. Both the Red Cross and management of the apartment complex provided assistance to those in need, with the cause of the fire quickly attributed to the rapid spread of flames following the 'unsupervised' and careless cooking (frying) of chicken in the ground floor apartment kitchen: luckily, no injuries were reported to have befallen either firefighters or civilians.
At approximately 3 a.m. Thursday, March 13, units were dispatched to the report of a structure fire at 10030 Skinner Lake Drive, specifically the Homestead Studio Suites Hotel. First units arriving at the scene confirmed that the ground floor room, Apartment #276 of this two story building, had fire creeping up the exterior wall toward the roof. Peeling back the facade and wire mesh in a laborious, painstaking effort involving assorted tools and lasting nearly 45 minutes, firefighters were finally able to expose the flame and extinguish the aforementioned before the fire could creep and vent into the attic space. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire appeared accidental, with the majority of the damage confined to the small exterior portion along the southside of the building and not encompassing any interior components of any of the rooms.