Fire displaces scores of frail retirees from Tampa apartments

TAMPA — A kitchen fire Saturday afternoon displaced scores of frail residents from an apartment tower for retirees, fire officials said.

Seniors occupy 82 of the 85 apartments at the Tampa N.A.P.F.E. Towers at 11113 N Nebraska Ave., where the fire broke out in a fifth-floor apartment.

No one was hurt, but officials said most of the residents have trouble getting around and all were forced to leave their apartments for a day or more.

While most of those evacuated will stay with relatives in the area, 24 needed the American Red Cross to find a place for them to stay while the building was shut down, officials said. Saturday afternoon, some sat in an air-conditioned HARTline bus while they waited for temporary housing.

Tampa firefighters responded to an alarm at the seven-story complex about 1:30 p.m. There, they found that the kitchen fire in apartment No. 513 triggered a sprinkler head. The sprinkler held the flames in check, limiting fire damage to the stove top and nearby cabinets.

But it took several minutes to turn off the water. In that time, water flowed into an elevator shaft. The first five floors of the building all sustained water damage, officials said.

Out of concern for the electrical system, fire officials had Tampa Electric Co. shut down the building's power until an electrician determines that the building is safe. That's expected to take until today, or longer if the electrician finds problems.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire displaces scores of frail retirees from Tampa apartments 10/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 2, 2010 11:52pm]

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