Large fire breaks out at Tymber Skan condos in Orlando

Orange County, Orlando fire departments extinguish blaze

ORLANDO, Fla. – A massive fire broke out Tuesday morning at Tymber Skan, a condemned condo complex in Orange County.

The fire was reported before 8 a.m. near Barkwater Drive and Tymberwood Lane.

No one was injured in the blaze, which burned at least eight units in a vacant building, Orange County fire officials said. 

Many of the condos don't have water or electricity, but people won't leave. Orange County Fire Rescue doesn't know if the building burned in the blaze was vacant or not. 

Most of the derelict complex is abandoned, but Orange County estimates between 50 and 75 people still live there. Many of them told News 6 they own their condos and refuse to leave their home and investment.

"We're doing the best we can," resident Cynthia Claytor said. "We don't want to move We don't have a place to go. We own our buildings."

She added that her home is lawfully occupied and has utilities. She said suspicious fires keep popping up as homeowners are being told to give up their condos.

"They're trying to get rid of the people here because they want the land," Claytor said. 

There have been 22 fires reported at the complex in the last two years, and crime is rampant in the area, authorities said.

Investigators have made no arrests for the fires and have not identified any suspects.

[PHOTOS:  Large fire at Tymber Skan condos]

Orange County said it has spent more than $1.5 million over the past three years to relocate residents who are willing to leave, to dispatch code enforcement and to demolish neglected buildings and continue providing emergency services to the remaining residents. Twenty-six condos have been demolished since 2013 and 27 more are slated to be demolished.

"Really, it's not taxpayer resources," Orange County Commissioner Victoria Siplin said. "You have actual citizens that live there, that still own condos there. You have renters there, so it is our obligation as county government to make sure that we provide safety for the residents that are still there."

Utilities to two of the three sections of the complex were cut off after bills weren't paid. The remaining residents continue to pay taxes and to pay for utility and emergency services.

"We've certainly had concerns over public safety and we're on the best track we can be on in terms of having funds allocated to continue the process of taking title to the properties that we can and demolishing them, and creating an opportunity for us to revitalize it," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said. "But if you live there legally and that's your home, you have a right to stay there, so we just can't do that."

Most of the complex is filled with trash, high weeds, boarded-up buildings, piles of dirt and charred debris.

Jacobs and Siplin said they'd like to see a developer revitalize the property.

"We're moving as quickly as we can to try and create an environment that's safe for the folks who live there and create an environment where we can develop something to house people who live in the community that is decent, affordable and safe housing," Jacobs said.

The state fire marshal will investigate the cause of Tuesday's fire.

A large fire breaks out at Tymber Skan.

A large fire breaks out at Tymber Skan in Orlando.


About the Author: