Grease fire destroys Williamsburg apartment

Christina Maurice holds her cat, Murphy, as her roommate Heather Walker pets the cat outside the scene of a fire at the Williamsburg Village Apartments on Friday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8:21 p.m.

A grease fire that ignited on a stove and then spread when attempts were made to extinguish it destroyed an apartment at the Williamsburg complex in southwest Gainesville late Friday afternoon.

No one was injured, and pet cats, mice and a dog were rescued from two of the apartments by firefighters.

"They were frying with the grease and it flared up. When they tried to extinguish it with an extinguisher, it went everywhere. That will happen depending on the type of extinguisher," Gainesville Fire Rescue District Chief James Lovvorn said.

"The apartment with the fire is pretty well gutted. We're not going to let anybody back in the building tonight," Lovvorn said late Friday afternoon.

The building has four units — two on the ground floor and two above them. A maintenance man for the complex at 2000 SW 16th St. said the apartments were built in the 1960s and do not have automatic sprinklers that new complexes have.

Residents of the apartment in which the fire started did not want to comment. People who lived in the other three units in the building were not home when the fire occurred, but three women who live in one of the apartments came home to find fire crews — and immediately feared for the lives of their pets.

"I saw them out there and in my apartment. I have mice in there — Milk and Double Stuf — and I was afraid," said University of Florida student Heather Walker, whose mice were OK.

Also fine were the cat and dog of her roommates, Victoria Delgado and Christina Maurice, also UF students.

"I didn't know if it was our apartment or another one. Then I saw a door wide open — that's my room, and I keep my cat in my room," Maurice said as she held her Siamese, Murphy, a minute after a firefighter carried the cat out.

Lovvorn said a crew from the Archer Road fire station quickly got to the complex, adding that firefighters were able to keep the blaze primarily confined to the one apartment. He added that the unit above it had some damage.

Lovvorn said residents would not be allowed into the other units until they could be assessed and cleared of smoke.

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