Woman in critical condition after southside fire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One woman is in critical condition after an apartment fire on Jacksonville's south side early Friday.

Chief Marty Senterfitt said the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department responded to La Esperanza Apartments in the 3800 block of S. University Blvd. around 2:30 a.m.

Senterfitt said it was a two-alarm fire that approximately 60 firefighters worked to contain over a period of a couple of hours. The fire was isolated to one building that contained eight apartment units.

An undetermined amount of residents have been displaced and are now receiving assistance from the American Red Cross of Northeast Florida.

Tom Francis, a spokesman for JFRD, said authorities don't know exactly how many people need help yet because some displaced families have left the scene all together.

Francis said firefighters successfully rescued one woman they found surrounded by flames lying on her bedroom floor. He declined to provide further information about the woman's identity, but said she was taken to UF Health Jacksonville.

The Florida State Fire Marshal has been called in to assist with the investigation, which Senterfitt said is routine in nature.

A crime scene unit from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was also on scene.

Senterfitt said it is too early to identify a cause of the fire, but acknowledged the role cold weather overnight might have played.

"It is cold so people do have heaters, but without knowing what each individual case is I can't speculate on that," he said.

The fire was the fourth "major" incident Senterfitt said JFRD had responded to in a 24 hour period, which he called "unusual." He did not say he believed the incidents were related.

Senterfitt added he is proud of the department for its quick response time and that stations remained properly staffed at all times.

"Fortunately, they've (the incidents) spaced themselves out where we're able to respond to each of them separately," he said.

The other incidents involve a fatal fire on W. 10th St., a fire that injured two firefighters on Utsey Street and a gas leak on Normandy Boulevard.


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