It took more than 55 firefighters two hours to put out a blaze at the Beneva Ridge condos in Sarasota this afternoon.
The fire sparked up around 2 p.m. inside a condo in Building G. Keelin Hoffman was inside her grandmother's apartment where the fire originated. Hoffman told ABC Action News, workers were installing a new washer and dryer in the unit. When the unit was plugged in, sparks went flying.
"Oh we could get that out, couple buckets of water, fire extinguisher, it will be fine," said Hoffman of her initial reaction to the fire.
Hoffman and the workers did not immediately realize the sparks turned into flames in between the walls. Within minutes, smoke was billowing out of the building.
"We were just covering our faces it was so bad," Hoffman explained.
Hoffman's grandmother was not home at the time the blaze broke out. She returned home Friday to find her home of more than 30 years was destroyed. Some photographs she kept on the first floor of her condo were found floating in her backyard.
"It is just so devastating when someone loses something like that," said Linda Anania, a resident whose condo was spared in the fire.
By 5 p.m. fire crews were mopping up and checking for any hotspots. A fire investigator was also out inspecting the condos. Two condos were destroyed and several other were severely damaged.
"The living room fell in," said Mike Cianciolo of his condo. "The living room roof fell in from all the water damage. From the sounds of it I guess there is not much left of my place."
Cianciolo's good friend, who also happens to do maintenance work on the building, ran and saved his dog when the fire broke out.
Firefighters, however, did go back into the flames to save Cianciolo's two snakes.
No residents were hurt in the fire but one firefighter was taken to an area hospital for heat exhaustion.
Red Cross volunteers did come out to assist the displaced residents. Many are staying with family and friends tonight. Red Cross volunteers estimate that five people were displaced but the number could grow considering electricity was shut off to many condos in the complex.
Ciancolo said he does have insurance and insurance through the condo association like many other residents.
Displaced residents, according to fire crews, will not be allowed back into their condos until Saturday. A fire truck with some crew members will stay overnight to make sure no one goes inside because it is unsafe.
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