The new year has certainly kicked off in grand fashion for several of the members of the Jacksonville Fire/Rescue Department: congratulations are in order for those individuals promoted during the department's quarterly ceremony held on Tuesday, 5 January, on the 5th Floor of headquarters.
A major Second Alarm occurred for those companies assigned near the Intracoastal Waterway, as a response was required for a residential fire at Building 13 of 'The Links' apartment complex at Windsor Parke. The crews arriving at about 9 p.m. at the apartments located on Hodges reported flames shooting through the roof of the three-story, 20 unit strong building. The intensity of the fire was so great that all apartment units had to be evacuated, spilling residents out into the parking lot in sub-freezing temperatures. The common attic space found within the building facilitated the rapid spread of the fire throughout the structure, eventually demanding from the 50-odd firefighters on scene nearly 30 minutes of focused work before the fire could be called under control. Although no injuries were reported, virtually all of the roof was destroyed with apartments on the first two floors suffering from smoke and water damage, to varying degress of intensity. The initial investigation seemed to identify the culprit as a fireplace in an apartment on the third floor, possibly having been loaded with far too much wood and other fuel for the fireplace's respective capability.
Monday evening, January 18 at approximately 7:30 p.m., an emergency response for a structure fire in the 800 block of Laurel Street resulted in first arriving units reporting a fully involved 'shed' in the rear of a single family, single story home. As crews approached the scene, a wooden fence along the property line was already on fire and the ominous hissing sound of a small LP tank in the area of the fire could also be heard. With crews attacking the fire area in the rear, firefighters forced entry at the front door in order to promptly initiate a primary search. Suddenly faced by huge, black clouds of smoke pouring out from that front entry, firefighters correctly surmised that the so-called 'shed' was actually affixed to the rest of the house, complete with an open 'hallway' leading into the main structure. Within minutes all hazards had been successfully addressed, but not before the fire had created such damage as to displace all family members: more specifically one adult female and four children, including two 7 year old twins. The early stages of the investigation indicated that an unattended candle was to blame for the unfortunate incident, with damage estimates well over twenty thousand dollars. Fortunately, no injuries were reported from the scene.