A fire on the 12th floor of The Lido Regency condominium this morning sent 22 Sarasota Fire Department crews, two Longboat Key Fire Rescue crews and the Sarasota Police Department bomb squad to the scene to put out the fire and extract potentially dangerous materials.
At 8:30 a.m. this morning, the Sarasota Fire Department was called to the scene at 1700 Ben Franklin Drive, just a few blocks from St. Armands Circle.
When crews arrived, residents in the building were evacuating because the alarm and fire sprinkler system had been triggered.
The fire was put out by 8:50 a.m., but firefighters observed an emergency situation where the fire originated in a 12th-floor apartment.
“When firefighters found the apartment where the fire started, they opened the windows to clear the smoke and discovered compressed gas tanks, oxygen tanks and unidentified chemicals,” said Sarasota Fire Department spokesperson Susan Pearson.
“When tanks get heated or touched by flames there is a possibility of an explosion, so the apartment was completely quarantined, “ said Pearson. “The (firefighters) knew there was an immediate hazard.”
At that point, Pearson said, firefighters ordered the entire building evacuated at 9:30 a.m., and the approximately 40 residents inside at the time of the fire were shuttled by SCAT to the Lido Key Holiday Inn hotel conference room for shelter and breakfast.
None of the building’s residents were injured in the fire, and Pearson said the owner of the apartment where the fire started has been indentified but not located by the Sarasota Police Department. Residents say the apartment, which was empty except for the chemicals and tanks found inside it when firefighters entered, was being rented.
Eight Sarasota firefighters have been sent to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for possible chemical exposure and respiratory problems, Pearson said.
Longboat Key Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Sandi Drake said the two crews sent to Lido Key assisted in building ventilation and cleanup and are already back on the Key. The Longboat Key firefigthers sustained no injuries.
One oxygen tank on scene in the apartment was determined unstable, and the Sarasota Police Department bomb squad is still in the process of removing the tank, Pearson said.
“Until the cylinder is removed we cannot begin to identify the other chemicals,” Pearson explained.
A hazardous materials team is expected to be on the site for hours assisting with the cleanup.
— Staff writer Yaryna Klimchak contributed to this story.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.