ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - An Altamonte Springs couple is starting over, after most everything they owned was destroyed from smoke and water damage due to an apartment fire. Officials say the fire alarm at the complex failed to go off and warn residents.
When the blaze broke out at Central Park Apartments, you could hear a woman screaming, says Eric Rojas.
He says he was sleeping next door when a stranger driving by stopped to help everyone.
"He was yelling 'Fire! Fire! Your apartment's on fire! Everybody get out!' and I woke up."
Eric says he, his wife, and roommate, ran for safety. They tried taking their cat, Marvel, but she darted away in fear.
"My blinds were closed, but it looked like the sunset was directly on my balcony and it was hot. My smoke or fire alarms were not going off."
Firefighters say two people were rushed to the hospital. Eric and his wife, in shock at the damage in their own unit.
"When we went in the first day we were wading in ankle-deep water and chemicals in our belongings. We lost all of our furniture, many electronics, clothes, our collection of board games, sentimental stuff."
Eric and his wife are amazed at the outpouring of support from family members, donating to a fire recovery fund.
"It’s an overwhelming net of support helping us out here, that I’ve never experienced."
And yet another miracle occurred after the devastating fire.
"Six hours later someone did find the cat alive,scared, hiding in a box spring."
Today Eric, his wife and roommate are in a new unit at the complex, trying to pick up the pieces.
"Something’s are irreplaceable but we’re just trying to make it a home again."
He advises others to enough renters insurance to cover damage like this. He’s grateful to the stranger who just happened to be driving by, when he stopped to alert everyone.
"It must be fate that he was driving by, to help us out that morning. He was on his way to work."
Altamonte Springs City Manager Franklin Martz says property management at the complex is required to repair the fire alarm and fire sprinkler system. They have an around the clock fire watch for everyone's safety.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. If you would like to assist residents displaced by the fire, visit the Fire Recovery Fund Facebook page.