Residents return home following 2-alarm fire

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A 2-alarm blaze at a Carrollwood apartment complex destroyed several units and killed a man Saturday evening. 

Investigators say the fire started just after 8:00 p.m. at St. James Crossing Apartments on Gunn Highway. 

Fire officials have not publicly identified the man who died in the fire; however, many residents of the apartment complex began finding out Sunday morning.  

 “Nice guy, older gentleman,” resident John Romero recalled. “Every time I walked by him with my dog he would always say something to my dog.”

Investigators still don’t know the cause of the fire. Eric Seidel, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesperson, says it wasn’t an easy fire to fight.  

“There was no way to make entrance through the stairwell so our firefighters put ladders up against the balcony, ascended those, got through the apartments that were on fire, put those out and then broke through to the other apartments to make sure that there was no fire.”

In total, two apartments had extensive fire damage, several others had smoke and water damage. Some tenants displaced overnight returned Sunday morning to salvage what they could. 

“We have the Red Cross out here as well as the office of emergency management to make sure they have accommodations for the night,” Seidel said.