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Apartment Fires In Ocala Prompt Response From Red Cross

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Nearly 50 people were evacuated from their apartments in Ocala Tuesday due to multiple apartment fires.

Two fires in two different apartment complexes led to the evacuations, according to the American Red Cross.

The first was a cooking fire at Spring Manor Apartments a little after 4 p.m. All eight units in the apartment building were evacuated because of the fire and damage from wiring in the hallway, said Ashley Lopez, spokeswoman for Ocala Fire Rescue, in a statement.

A second fire at The Village Apartments took place around 9 p.m. and required six units to be evacuated, Lopez said, also in a statement.

Preliminary investigations suggest the fire was a result of a malfunctioning air conditioner.

The situation is still being investigated, according to a spokesperson for The Village Apartments. They declined taking questions when contacted by WUFT.

Amber Bierfreund, the communications director for the North Florida Region of the American Red Cross, said a total of 49 people were evacuated from the two complexes: 36 from Spring Manor and 13 from The Village Apartments.

“There isn’t one easily identifiable trend in these two cases,” Lopez said.

“However, unattended cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires in the United States,” Lopez said. “In this instance [at Spring Manor], it was a grease fire. The tenants added water to the grease which made the situation worse, allowing the fire to spread.”

The apartment managers were available and on scene for both incidents. Lopez said they were able to help move those who were evacuated into open units.

The Red Cross responded to both of these incidents. Bierfreund said all of the tenants were given or helped in finding temporary housing.

“We deal with immediate assistance,” Bierfreund said. “We’re just there to make sure they have medications, clothing, shoes and the basic necessities.”

The Red Cross provided financial assistance for those needing housing as well. Bierfreund said that assistance can go toward a hotel room or a down payment on a new apartment.

The individuals who were evacuated are currently working with case workers from the Red Cross to evaluate their needs, Bierfreund said.

About Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.

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