16 families displaced after apartment fire in southwest Orlando, officials say

Residents and their pets were able to escape safely

ORLANDO, Fla. – Sixteen families will be moving after a fire Saturday morning burned through their apartments, according to Orlando Fire Department officials.

The fire began in a downstairs unit of West Winds Apartments in southwest Orlando, OFD Assistant Fire Chief Paul Plaugher said. He said firefighters received a call about smoke in the area at 8:40 a.m. and arrived to find a blaze already in progress.

"When [rescuers] came around the corner they saw the bottom floor apartment heavily involved in fire," Plaugher said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire within one minute of entering the building,according to Plaugher. He said everyone inside the apartments, including pets, were able to escape safely.

"There was one victim trapped on the floor above the fire, so one of our firemen went through the window and escorted him down safely," Plaugher said. "He was rescued. We also rescued several cats out of one of the other buildings, so we have no injuries."

Firefighters have not yet determined what caused the fire, which destroyed the entirety of the apartment in which it began. Plaugher said an arson investigator will determine if the blaze was accidental or malicious.

The structure's property manager, Chriss West, said the families will be relocated to open units within the apartment complex.

"We just feel good that everyone is safe right now," West said.

The inside of the apartment in which the fire started.