A fire at the Excellence Apartments on Sunday evening is under investigation with the Hillsborough County Fire Department after the complex’s landlord suspected it to be a case of arson.
Nobody was injured in the fire.
Officials said the fire started in the trash compactor and spread through the stairwell of one of the units in the complex, located off 50th Street.
Craig Lynn, chief of the fire department, said the department was called at 6:34 p.m. and arrived at the Excellence at 6:42 p.m. He said the actual fire lasted about 15 minutes. No damages were reported.
Lori Snider, the Excellence Apartment’s landlord, said she thinks that the fire was arson and is arranging a reward for the arrest of the person who started the fire.
“There are currently investigators working on the incident, and it will be solved,” Snider said.
Snider said she arrived at the scene shortly after she was contacted about the fire.
Some residents said they hesitated to respond to the alarm thinking it was a false alarm.
“I could hear the fire alarm in my room and I thought it was just like all the other times, a false alarm, so I didn’t take action,” said George McNerney, a resident at the Excellence and a USF student. “After a few minutes I thought I should make sure everything was okay, so I opened the door and saw all these people standing outside looking up and I looked up and there was smoke all around.”
“I am just happy that everyone is okay and I never realized how scary fires were until I actually saw the smoke and the firefighters in action. I am glad it all turned out to be fine,” said Connie Beach, a resident at the Excellence Apartments and a USF student.