AVON LAKE, Ohio — People from a dozen condo units in Avon Lake are unable to return home after a garage fire spread to a building at Smugglers Cove Condominiums Saturday morning.
The complex is located on Electric Boulevard, near Miller Road, in the northwest side of the city.
“It’s sort of surreal,” said Patti Zinn, a 21-year resident at the complex. “When I came out here, there were fire trucks up here, all down there. Nobody could get in or out.”
She explained another resident, a retired firefighter, was the first to spot the smoke coming from a garage Saturday morning.
“He saw the black smoke coming out of the back side of the garage, knew that wasn’t right because of being a fireman, walked around, saw the grill on fire, started to get people out and called the fire department. And he said by that time, it exploded," Zinn said, adding the neighbor buzzed all 12 doors until everyone was awake before helping them evacuate.
The Avon Lake Fire Department said crews arrived around 8:41 a.m. The structure, which consisted of a six-bay garage and 12 residential apartments, was on fire. Firefighters used "an offensive attack strategy" to keep the fire from spreading further.
Mutual aid from neighboring departments responded to the scene.
In addition to the the fire damage, parts of the structure that did not catch fire still sustained heavy damage from smoke and water. The garage was deemed a total loss, authorities said. Three cars and a motorcycle were also destroyed in the fire. Another three vehicles were damaged by the heat. One condominium was destroyed and extensive damage was done to several others.
No injuries were reported. Multiple condos were deemed uninhabitable and the Red Cross responded to help those families who were displaced, authorities said.
“We were very fortunate that the gentleman was out walking the dog and able to get everyone out, make sure that nobody got hurt," Zinn said.
Others in the community were offering help Saturday.
Isla's Ice Cream on Lear Road posted on social media, "If anyone happens to see this that is affected/had to evacuate and doesn’t have a place to go- you are more than welcome to come hangout at Isla’s."
The owners offered a safe place to decompress and a free meal to anyone displaced by the fire, as well as first responders.
“For someone, a family just like yours, to be affected by something so horrible - it’s really upsetting to see that,” said Mikayla Hyland, the co-manager at Isla's. “We want to give back to the community and pay it forward.”
The specific cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The Ohio Fire Marshal is assisting the Avon Lake Fire Department with the investigation.
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