A fire engulfed a Winter Park home at 911 N. Park Ave. early Sunday morning – leaving an old home that was under renovation in smoldering ruins.
Firefighters received a call at about 2:10 a.m. Sunday, March 25. They arrived on the scene and saw that the flames were already through the roof.
“It’s unusual and telling that it had a really good head start on us,” said Deputy Chief Pat McCabe of the Winter Park Fire Department. “Our first concern was the exposure to the neighbors’ houses, which we immediately put hose lines on to protect them from catching fire.”
The house — currently under renovation and sitting just north of the intersection of Webster and Park avenues — was unoccupied. No residents or firefighters were injured in the fire.
“It was actually called in by a neighbor who heard the commotion,” McCabe said. “Normally when a house is occupied, the smoke alarms will wake up the residents, and we get there very quickly and we’re able to take care of the situation. We’re very fortunate that we were told early on that the structure was unoccupied, so we didn’t have to put anybody at risk to go inside and search.
“Normally, we think there’s people inside,” McCabe said. “We would risk a lot to save a lot. We were fortunate enough to be informed that there was nobody inside. We’re not going to put anybody at risk to search an unoccupied structure with that much fire.”
The roof collapsed into the structure early on, McCabe said, so there was no interior firefighting.
“It was a very well-built house, it was all hard pine,” McCabe said. “It burned very hot.”
The firefighters put out the bulk of the flames by 6 a.m., but units stayed on site until 3 p.m. to ensure any hotspots were hosed down.
“It was a very large house — it was very unusual; this doesn’t happen very often,” McCabe said. “Normally with the alarm systems in place and the houses are occupied, we’re able to get there very quickly and put the fire out. But being that it was unoccupied and there was no alarm system in place, the fire got a substantial head start on us.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal, McCabe said, though an arson dog was brought out to the scene to check for accelerants.