Kissimmee apartment complex residents concerned after second fire

More than dozen displaced by Valencian apartment building fire

By Brianna Volz - Web producer, Clay LePard - Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - More than a dozen people are displaced after a fire at an apartment building in Osceola County Wednesday afternoon, the Kissimmee Police Department said.

Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the two-story Valencian apartment building at 1459 Dorado Drive during the fire, officials said.

Donegan Avenue was closed between John Young Parkway and Thacker Avenue around 11:45 a.m. as crews worked to put out the fire. Police are asking drivers to avoid the area.

"When it went up, it went up," resident Doris Brancazio said. "It ignited so fast." 

By the time firefighters were able to get the fire under control, all eight units in the burning building were destroyed. No one was injured in the fire.

"We had heavy winds, so the fire went through the whole roof," Kissimmee Fire Chief Jim Walls said. 

This is not the first time Kissimmee firefighters have been called to the complex. In October, the roof of a neighboring building at the Valencian also caught fire.

"When I looked out the window and saw this building burning, it looked like the same exact fire from October," resident Joanne Gonzalez explained. 

Walls said he doesn't believe the two fires started the same way, but the investigation into the cause is still ongoing.

Residents of neighboring buildings said they're scared their building could be next. 

"We have no voice," resident Rosalina Alvarez said. "We complain and the tenants have no voice. We complain and they don't do anything. We do work orders, they don't comply."

The regional vice president responsible for the complex said the company is trying harder.

"We're trying to take care of them," Kristina Hale, with the Michaelson Group, said. "I'm actually going to the office to take care of them."

Several hours after the fire was under control, the Orange County hazmat team arrived after firefighters noticed a chemical smell during their cleanup. The chief says he doesn't believe this fire is suspicious, but the state fire marshal arrived to help determine what caused it.

Everyone is OK and safe after the apartment complex fire. However, the more than dozen people who lived in the eight units affected will need to find a new place to live. The Red Cross responded to the fire as well.

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