Fire destroys apartment building, leaves dozens without homes

More than three dozen tenants of an apartment complex in Hillsborough County awoke to flames ripping through their apartment building Thursday morning. Now most of them are looking for new homes.

The fire broke out at Captiva Club Apartments in Town 'N' Country at around 5:30 a.m. Witnesses told investigators it started one one end of a 16-unit building.

"Everybody was banging on everybody's doors," said Mary Johnson, one of the tenants. "Thank God for the community that we have. The neighbors that we have cared enough for us to let us all know that, 'hey, the building is on fire.'"

Everyone got out safely, but the flames quickly spread from one unit to the next.

The fire and smoke destroyed six of the upper apartments, while six lower ones were destroyed by the massive amount of water firefighters had to use.

"We set up our truck early into the fire, which allowed us to dump copious amounts of water on the fire," said Nacole Revette, a spokesperon for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. "It's a great suppression attack because it allows us to have a lot of water without a lot of firefighters inside."

Investigators said the complex is at least 20 years old, so it was not built with sprinklers or firewalls in the attic, as is required by code for newly constructed apartment buildings.

Eileen Marty told FOX 13 she was staying with her parents when she heard someone banging on the door. She realized she had to carry her father to safety.

"Everything else is replaceable, my parents are not," Marty said. "Nobody was hurt in this fire and for that I am so thankful. Everybody was out. No animals were hurt. No people were hurt and you can't put a price on life."

Firefighters say the building had smoke detectors, which were likely a major reason everyone got out.

The fire marshal is trying to determine what sparked the fire. Witnesses told investigators it started in one of the end apartments.