Clean-up begins after fire at Venice assisted living facility

  • 0

VENICE, Fla. -- A fire Monday night at a senior living facility displaced residents. Now crews are working around the clock to pick up the mess and rebuild so residents can return.

It happened just after 9:30 at Village on the Isle located on South Tamiami Trail at Avenue Del Circo.

"First it was fire crews, now it's clean-up crews. And soon fix-it crews." Resident Nancy Chatfield was watching television when the fire alarm sounded. "I thought to myself maybe we are having a drill."

Within seconds, she realized something wasn't right. "I looked over and saw the water coming in. It kept coming and coming and coming."

A fire broke out in one of the apartments in the senior living community. It caused the sprinkler system to go off in two units, flooding the hallway and another dozen apartments, says facility CEO Tom Kelly. "If our safety systems didn't work, well this is a six story building we are standing in."

Emergency crews from Venice, Nokomis, and Sarasota County were there within minutes. Nobody was hurt or took in any smoke.

"It could have been catastrophic, but thank God it wasn't."

Initial theories have something to do with a microwave, but right now they're not sure. "We are waiting on the fire marshal to identify exactly what happened."

In the meantime, those with pre-existing medical needs have been placed in other areas on the campus. The rest are with family or have been put up in local hotels.

"I've seen worse…a lot of water." Cary Greenberg with Statewide Disaster Restoration says they're already running machines to dry out the rooms, ripping up carpet and tearing out wet drywall. They say it’s important to get it fixed quick. "We are dealing with a very delicate situation, with all the personal items lost. We try to handle it with kid gloves."

Kelly says the situation could be traumatic for some, so they're offering all kinds of support. "Psycho-social support, as well as physical support. We are making sure that have comfortable surroundings. Any kind of favorite clothing. Whatever they need they are getting to put up with this inconvenience."

Nancy says she's taking it in stride. "I am personally treating it as an adventure (laughs)."

Those working quickly there hope to have residents back in their rooms in a matter of days rather than weeks.