Three families race to escape apartment fire

- Three families are out of a home after a fire ripped through a Hillsborough County apartment building Sunday afternoon.

The fire broke out around 3 p.m. at the complex near the intersection of 131st Avenue and 20th Street.

“We just came home from church, just you know getting ready for the week, and all the sudden we hear this noise and we go to the back door we see flames and smoke just coming out of everywhere,” said resident Lisa Simmons.

In a matter of seconds, a quiet Sunday turned into a race to escape the burning apartment building.

“Oh the smoke was black it was like pitch black and the flames were orange, I've never seen flames that hot,” Simmons said.

Lisa and her daughter, along with two other families, made it out safely, but watched their homes and most of their possessions burn.

“The far apartment towards the west was the apartment that was fully involved when they got here,” said Battalion Chief Grant Preseau. “Flames were through the roof.”

Firefighters say the fire started in an end unit and engulfed the rest of the building.

Only one unit was spared from major damage.

Despite the devastating loss, everyone is safe.

“Everybody got out. Nobody was left there. Nobody died. Nobody was hurt. Nobody was injured,” said Simmons. “Thank God for that. Thank God for that.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Red Cross is assisting all of the families displaced by the fire.

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