Brush fire near Avalon Park prompts evacuations

By Shaun Chaiyabhat, Reporter, schaiyabhat@clickorlando.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 03:27:09 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 07 2013 01:55:42 PM EST

Orange County Fire Rescue says a brush fire that sparked near Avalon Park has been contained, after the brush fire prompted the evacuation of several buildings in an apartment complex as flames crept closer to homes.

ORLANDO, Fla. -

Fire at apartments Orange County Fire Rescue says a brush fire that sparked near Avalon Park has been contained, after the brush fire prompted the evacuation of several buildings in an apartment complex as flames crept closer to homes.

OCFR told Local 6 they had to evacuate 5 buildings at GrandeVille apartments. All but two buildings have been allowed to return, but they will be open within the next half hour.

OCFR said the 7.3 acre brush fire caused visibility issues on Avalon Park Boulevard, prompting officials to put their patrol cars in the road to get drivers to slow down.

Residents told Local 6 that management at the complex is reportedly working with authorities to enter buildings to evacuate dogs that are trapped inside because of their owners still being at work.

"I saw the fire erupting and there was black smoke everywhere," said resident Lanae Goss.

Flames quickly burned some of the woods surrounding the GrandeVille apartments as thick smoke covered a main artery through east Orlando, just in time for the afternoon rush.

Neighbors arrived home and huddled together, watching as crews fought back the fire.

"It's about 75 feet, yeah. It's pretty close," said resident Steve Deer. "It's very close, very scary. I've got animals. I was just worried about getting in and getting my dogs out."

A lot of the residents said they were worried about their pets home alone. One woman helped rescue several animals left behind in the five evacuated buildings.

"I'm just waiting for them to tell me if I have to evacuate or not and get everything ready," said redit Eric Andracchio. "I already started putting some stuff together."

Firefighters did not evacuate Andracchio's building, even though flames were within 100 feet of his backyard. Crews sprayed water on the building as embers shot through the air and into a neighborhood across the street.

Fire trucks patrolled that area, worried fires might start on rooftops, but people in the apartments worry how they'll sleep with the lingering threat of flare-ups.

"Most people won't be able to sleep and stuff," said Goss. "It's pretty interesting to find out what would happen throughout the night.

Firefighters will stay at the apartments all night, making sure the fire does not start back up. They said they would be back in the morning.

State officials said they will also try to figure out what caused this fire Thursday morning.

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