Report: Deadly Town 'N County apartment fire likely started on lanai

Image 1 of 4

A new report says a fire at an apartment complex, that killed a woman and her two children last month, appears to have started outside the apartment.

The 15-page report says the fire at Captiva Club Apartments in Town ‘N Country started on the lanai of the unit where the mother and her two young children died. Initial findings suggest poorly discarded smoking materials could have been the cause.

With the report, investigators released 911 call audio, revealing the apparent horror experienced by the residents.

It was just after 3:20 in the morning on May 15 when the calls started pouring in.

Dispatcher: Do you know where the fire is? Is it on the first floor?

Caller 1: It’s on our back porch, I don’t know how it started.

Caller 2: There are people inside, there are people inside!

Heavy flames were showing through the roof of the apartment complex when fire crews arrived. It took firefighters 45-minutes to knock the flames down.

Meralys Velazquez and her two children, Sophia and Ethan Duque, were still inside their second-story apartment.

The family of three wasn’t able to make it out of their burning apartment. The fire investigation report from that night says they were found by crews near the bathroom of the master bedroom.

This was the third fire at the complex in recent years and investigators said they were looking into any possible connections. According to the new report, it appears there's not one. It says the flames likely sparked on the lanai of the family's unit and then moved through the roof truss system.

In April 2018, about 8 units were destroyed. In 2015, an even larger fire broke out, damaging 12 of a 16-unit building.

Investigators say the official cause of the most recent fire is still undetermined.