County's hands tied on future of demolishing Tymber Skan

By: Shannon Butler , Sarahbeth Ackerman

Updated:

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Firefighters battled a blaze Tuesday morning at the Tymber Skan condominium complex, Orange County Fire Rescue said.

The fire was reported shortly after 7:45 a.m., officials said.

Firefighters said an abandoned condominium building burned to the ground.

"It was just scary. It was just scary, and the thought of losing everything," said resident Monica Webster.

Photos: Fire at Tymber Skan condos

Witnesses from miles away reported seeing a large plume of black smoke billowing from the complex.

Crews extinguished the fire within 20 minutes.

Resident Rachel Brown said she could feel the fire's heat radiating through her window when she and her children evacuated her condo.

Brown said she's tried to have something done about the abandoned buildings at the complex, but she said she hasn't been able to get help.

"These apartments [are] dangerous. They need to be closed down," she said. "I have called the mayor's office. I have called code enforcement. I'm telling them over and over."
 

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Watch footage of the massive fire below:

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Read: Fully-involved blaze knocked down by firefighters at Tymber Skan condo complex

"We could have died this morning," she said. "It was just scary."

Webster said she's fed up with conditions at the troubled complex.

"We are just trying to survive," she said. "What can we do? We go to work every day, we pay our bills and we just need [somewhere] decent and safe to stay."

The county has demolished 26 buildings at Tymber Skan. They're halfway through  condeming another 27 buildings, officials said.

Photos: Fire at Tymber Skan condos

Four abandoned units, accounting for about 8,000 square feet, were destroyed in a July fire, officials said. There was another fire last April.

Firefighters have responded to the complex 42 times since 2012 for reported fires. Many of the fires were arson, officials said.

Firefighter safety has been discussed and that's why firefighters only fight the fires from the outside, not inside any of the empty structures. Firefighters told Eyewitness News that they worry someone at Tymber Skan will be killed.

"I love our firefighters and I appreciate the hard work. But I think it's also important for them to understand that we live in a country that values the rights of people who own their home," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

There are 50 to 70 people who own condos and live at Tymber Skan legally.

No one was injured in Tuesday's blaze.

The state fire marshal continues to investigate the cause of the fire.

WFTV Web Staff contributed to this story.

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