The South Walton Fire District (SWFD) received a call at 5 a.m. reporting a structure fire at 6299 U.S. Highway 98 W, the TerraMar Apartments.
Within minutes of receiving the initial 9-1-1 call, SWFD units arrived on scene and found heavy fire coming from the three-story unoccupied apartment complex that was still under construction, according to a press release from the SWFD. With limited access to the building, crews initiated aerial master stream tactics and were able to confine the fire to one building.
There were 30 apartment units in the building that were involved. Nine units were completely engulfed in flames (prior to the arrival of the first SWFD unit) and eventually collapsed. Nine other units suffered heavy fire damages and even though SWFD crews were able to contain the fire to these 18 units, the remaining 12 experienced smoke, heat and water damages. According to the construction contractors, the damages to the entire building were in excess of $2.75 million, as all 30 units were considered a loss.
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Due to the large amount of construction debris, heavy equipment was needed to conduct the fire investigation. The delay in the arrival of the equipment contributed to the lengthy on scene fire investigation time. A joint investigation between the SWFD Fire Marshal and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office was conducted.
The fire was determined to have originated in the first floor of the collapsed units. Electrical, natural gas and lightning were all ruled out as the probable cause of this fire. At this time the cause of the fire was deemed to be “undetermined” by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Based on their findings, there were no plans to conduct an additional fire investigation.
SWFD responded to this incident with one Truck Company, three Engine Companies, one Squad, two Rescues and four Chief Officers. In addition, one Ladder Company from Destin Fire Control District provided mutual aid as well.
There were no injuries to report and the property was turned over to the construction contractors and the apartment management.