ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Fire Department has pulled together and is collecting donations for families displaced by an apartment fire.
Last Wednesday, crews responded to the Royal Isle Apartments in Orlando after several units caught fire. City officials said 71 people were displaced, including about 20 children.
"Initially what was on all of our minds was that there was a lot of people trapped inside, and we did our best to get in there," said Orlando firefighter Jason Hooper. "When the fire was out, you turned around and you had the whole community, mostly children, looking at all of their stuff gone."
Hooper said it was devastating seeing all of the residents, especially the children, realize that all of their belongings were destroyed.
"When the fire was out, you turned around and you had the whole community, mostly children, looking at all of their stuff gone," said Hooper.
Hooper, along with other firefighters, came up with an idea to ask the community for donations that included school supplies for the 20 kids starting school this week in Orange County.
"It makes me feel awesome," Hooper said. "Obviously, the community saw the need for outreach, and everyone wanted to be a part of it, and I'm just happy to be a part of it as well."
Orlando Fire Department officials said because the apartment was heavily engulfed in flames, an exact cause will not be determined. However, investigators said they were able to determine that the fire was likely an accident.
"(Being a firefighter is) a culture, so helping isn't just when you are on shift -- it's when you are off shift," Hooper said.
The Orlando Fire Department is continuing to collect donations.