Naples Bath and Tennis fire rips through 9-unit complex, residents escape

David Albers/Staff
- Konrad Rampendahl is comforted as he watches firefighters work to extinguish a fire in the apartments between 1840 and 1860 Bald Eagle Drive in the Naples Bath and Tennis Club on Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Naples.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff - Konrad Rampendahl is comforted as he watches firefighters work to extinguish a fire in the apartments between 1840 and 1860 Bald Eagle Drive in the Naples Bath and Tennis Club on Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Naples.

— A fire at Naples Bath and Tennis Club on Saturday engulfed and destroyed three condos in a battle that engaged dozens of firefighters for more than four hours.

No one was seriously injured.

Margot Rampendahl and her husband watched as flames consumed the first condo on the top floor of a three-story building, Unit C at 1860 Bald Eagle Drive in North Naples. Set to fly out Sunday to Germany where they spend half the year, the Rampendahls walked past their luggage, inside the front door, as emergency personnel evacuated the building.

“We were all packed. All our papers are there, passports, phone numbers, luggage, money, everything,” she said, shaking her head.

Like the other residents forced quickly out of their condos around 2 p.m. at the first whiffs of smoke, Rampendahl and her husband made it to an adjacent parking lot with little to nothing in hand.

“The police came. ‘Get out, get out.’ I was in my pajamas,” said Angela Duque, a first-floor resident. She was to have moved to a new home in Victoria Shores a day earlier, but a delay pushed it back a week. She walked out with only her cell phone, wallet and car keys.

Water to douse the flames from the south, east and west sides of the building poured into lower floors the longer the blaze raged. The flames appeared to be contained to only the third floor, however.

Seven people at the scene told the Daily News they were displaced because of the fire. One resident was taken to an area hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation. Officials on site were unsure how the blaze began in an unoccupied apartment, which is owned by out-of-state residents, according to the Collier Property Appraiser’s website.

“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to a job this big,” said Jerry Sanford, spokesman for the North Naples Fire Control and Rescue District, which led efforts Saturday alongside units from the city of Naples and Golden Gate, with support from Collier EMS and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

About 40 firefighters worked in shifts from the ground, inside the building, and in cherry pickers to hit the blaze from several angles.

Sanford was reluctant Saturday to put a figure on the damages to the nine-unit building, part of a community of condos and houses just south of the intersection of Pine Ridge and Airport-Pulling roads.

“I don’t want to say the building is a total loss,” he said, “but (the damage) is extensive. It’s a very high estimate.”

The destroyed condos were valued at around $117,000 each, according to the property appraiser’s website.

The working theory is that the wood roof of the building, built in the late 1970s, according to residents, was instrumental in moving flames from one side of the structure to the other.

Not only did the condos have a wood frame and a wood-shingled roof, but the roof’s structure, with a 1-foot to 2-foot cockloft — the space between the apartments’ ceilings and the roof, a truncated version of an attic on a house — acted as a conduit for the fire, channeling flames from where they started in Unit C, through a second condo in the center of the building, and over to where the Rampendahls have lived for 20 years.

“It’s hard to get in there to stop it. It spreads in that open area,” Sanford explained of the cockloft.

With the combustible building contents, the scene was “like a lumber yard with all of those aspects adding to the fire load,” he said, adding that there were no fire sprinklers in the building.

Margaret Ann Ronayne, who lived on the first floor with a roommate and four dogs, was the first to alert dispatchers to the fire.

Her first thought when she smelled smoke and then the fire alarm began chirping: “I’ve got to get my dogs out.”

Wheelchair-bound from hip surgery, Ronayne wanted to open the door and let them run to safety. However, Collier deputies who arrived to get her out of the condo rescued the dogs as well, keeping them in the back of a patrol car until Domestic Animal Services arrived to care for them until Ronayne figures out a living situation.

For now, she and three other families are headed to hotels for a few nights in an effort organized by the Red Cross. Others chose to stay with family or friends.

A state fire marshal arrived on site as the fire came under control around 6:30 p.m.

According to Sanford, a report including details on the origin of the fire could come as early as next week.

Earlier

UPDATE: Crews are cleaning up at the scene as of around 8 p.m.

NORTH NAPLES _ A fire in an apartment building at Naples Bath and Tennis Club has now spread across the top floor, fully engulfing two units and currently making its way through a third one as of around 5:15 p.m.

Seven people at the scene told the Daily News they are displaced because of the fire. One resident was taken to an area hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

The fire, which was first reported to Collier emergency dispatchers at around 2 p.m., began in the C Unit building at 1860 Bald Eagle Drive. The community of homes and apartments is just south of the intersection of Pine Ridge and Airport-Pulling roads.

Four of the nine units in the building were occupied, according to residents and neighbors. However, no injuries were reported and all residents safely left the building before the fire spread, authorities said.

Around 40 firefighters from North Naples and the city of Naples fire departments, along with one truck from the Golden Gate fire department, are now entering the fourth hour of battling the blaze.

The apartment where the fire started was unoccupied. There is no word yet on what sparked the fire, according to North Naples fire spokesman Jerry Sanford.

The building, which residents said was built in the late 1970s, has a wood frame and a shingled roof.

Sanford said the roof’s structure, with a 1-foot to 2-foot cockloft — the space between the apartments’ ceilings and the roof, a truncated version of an attic on a house — acted as a conduit for the fire, channeling flames across the roof.

The American Red Cross is at the scene.

Residents aren’t expected to be able to return to their homes today.

There is significant water damage to the lower two floors. However, the fire doesn’t appear to have dipped below the top floor.

The building’s residents are being taken by the Red Cross to hotels if they choose to not stay elsewhere with friends or family members.

Earlier

Firefighters are battling a fire at an apartment building at Naples Bath and Tennis Club off of Airport-Pulling Road.

The first call about the fire at 1860 Bald Eagle Drive came into Collier County emergency dispatchers after 2 p.m.

Two Naples Bath and Tennis buildings have been evacuated, according to emergency dispatchers in Collier County.

However, no one has yet been transported for injuries.

As many as 15 to 20 people from nine apartments left safely. The fire initially was located in the roof but is spreading downward.

Many of the units are owned by seasonal residents, so they were vacant, authorities said.

Several trucks and multiple fire departments have responded to the scene. North Naples fire department has 25 firefighters on the scene.

Return to naplesnews.com later today for more on this developing story

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 39

Conflict_Resolution writes:

Someone's forehand was on fire.

Nplschick writes:

in response to Conflict_Resolution:

Someone's forehand was on fire.

You are so ignorant. Peoples homes and all belongings are up in flames and you say that. People are losing everything they own and possibly their pets.

My prayers to everyone.

Conflict_Resolution writes:

in response to Nplschick:

You are so ignorant. Peoples homes and all belongings are up in flames and you say that. People are losing everything they own and possibly their pets.

My prayers to everyone.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

votesmart writes:

in response to johnwaynegacy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What the hell does that mean? Besides the fact you are a racist jerk!

FLFF21 writes:

in response to Conflict_Resolution:

Someone's forehand was on fire.

Really? Some people are just born ignorant I guess.
I suppose if your life is as useless as you make yours appear to be, then others' probably won't matter to you much either.

TNWaltz writes:

Drop the negative behavior and words. Try a little kindness and prayer. One person was taken in for smoke inhalation (via NDN) and there is a possession and emotional loss for these residents. STAY FOCUSED folks!

Sick writes:

It needed to be renovated anyhow. Now the insurance company can foot the bill.

How convenient for the residents. When the northerners come back down they should have them rebuilt for a quick sale. As long as the county or someone who leaned the property don't butt in.

SAJD writes:

The most important thing is everyone is safe! These older (70's) condo structures are a fire fighters nightmare.

LGoldstein writes:

Good work fire-fighters. Disturbing though that NDN would print the term cockl#ft, realizing slang terms about male genitalia might be offensive to our children who sometimes also read the news.

FLFF21 writes:

in response to LGoldstein:

Good work fire-fighters. Disturbing though that NDN would print the term cockl#ft, realizing slang terms about male genitalia might be offensive to our children who sometimes also read the news.

There is absolutely zero reason why the NDN should ever have to refrain from using the term cockloft which is used professionally and is a proper term used in building construction.

No kid would ever be offended by the term as you stated. They may make comical reference to it, but you can't control what is considered the norm in adolescence.

Sick writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

dmarko326 writes:

First thing fire inspectors ask is whether electrical or AC work had taken place recently. I'd hate to be on the carpet (as one of these contractors)until the cause has been determined. the stress....

beetlejuice writes:

in response to Sick:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

fishguts writes:

thankfully everyone got out and the FF's didn't get injured in the process.

TheBigTroll writes:

in response to Sick:

It needed to be renovated anyhow. Now the insurance company can foot the bill.

How convenient for the residents. When the northerners come back down they should have them rebuilt for a quick sale. As long as the county or someone who leaned the property don't butt in.

Easy to say ... it wasn't your home, where you lived year round for ten years, and all those things near and dear to you have been destroyed and your heart is broken.... insurance policy never entered my mind...

Beachglow writes:

It's about time for NDN to remove all these nasty people who keep making inappropriate comments on these blogs. You can easily see who they are by all their comments being removed on a consistent basis. Please do so NDN. No one else would people up with these creeps.

floridacarpenter writes:

Oddly enough, Naples Bath and Tennis Club was one of the first projects I worked on as a carpenter when I moved to Naples in the late 70's.

Oh and Conflict Resolution? Your not only ignorant, your a complete a##

angrytxpyr writes:

No sprinklers and all wood says it all. Good job NNFD, NFD, GGFD, ENFD, CC EMS and of course CCSO. Unfortunately it seems that its only in times of tragedy that you get recognition of a JOB WELL DONE.

Oh and my pennies worth would be the're not "cherry pickers" they are Ladder Trucks and Tower Companies and considering the layout of those complexes and the amount of mature trees and other challenges the operators of those large and complex vehicle face just to get the operating they should get special recognition for getting them properly place and operational.

CCSO should get additional thanks for being there first and evacuating the buildings without the benefit of SCBA or fire streams.

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

in response to floridacarpenter:

Oddly enough, Naples Bath and Tennis Club was one of the first projects I worked on as a carpenter when I moved to Naples in the late 70's.

Oh and Conflict Resolution? Your not only ignorant, your a complete a##

I also worked there as a carpenter for Boran, Craig and Schreck in the 70's.

Glad to hear everyone is safe and hope they can recover some of their belongings.

angrytxpyr writes:

WOW I'm just finished receiving a telephone beat down and a well deserved one at that. In my haste to do exactly what I commonly criticize people for doing I incorrectly corrected the reporter.

The so called "Cherry Pickers" are commonly called "Elevated Master Streams" and are put into operation when the Incident commander determines a structure is unsafe for interior fire suppression tactics and all occupants have been evacuated.

iamfedup writes:

in response to Beachglow:

It's about time for NDN to remove all these nasty people who keep making inappropriate comments on these blogs. You can easily see who they are by all their comments being removed on a consistent basis. Please do so NDN. No one else would people up with these creeps.

The Ft. Myers Press (and others) require names to be printed with the comment. So far, the NDN hasn't done this but the day is coming...

OP writes:

in response to LGoldstein:

Good work fire-fighters. Disturbing though that NDN would print the term cockl#ft, realizing slang terms about male genitalia might be offensive to our children who sometimes also read the news.

Are you being intentionally comic, or are you part of the politically correct class that knows nothing of words origins and usage?

Sick writes:

I told you they would replace the word with attic. Instead of roosterloft.

LOL

OP writes:

in response to iamfedup:

The Ft. Myers Press (and others) require names to be printed with the comment. So far, the NDN hasn't done this but the day is coming...

I will quit posting if I am required to identify myself. The theory you seem to follow is that if people must identify they will be reluctant to behave poorly. And, thus, the comments will be more relevant and less offensive. But, two points, that isn't necessarily so, and it can have the unintended consequence of suppressing the speech of those who have unique information or who fear that their views will somehow impact their jobs or friendships, (or, in my case, family relationships).

While, it would be nice for you to have all comments agree with your position and your anticipation of politeness; it is far more instructive of the actual make-up of our citizenry to hear what people are actually thinking than it is to have a homogenized echo chamber of views presented. As, coarse and socially deviant as you may find some comments, effectively burying ones head in the sand and pretending people who would say such things do not exist is not a solution; it is only denial.

The current language filter used by the NDN, coupled with the feature which permits one to flag a comment as inappropriate already provide options for redress of the truly offensive. However, both features are flawed because they are operated by flawed individuals; us and the employees at NDN. I cite as example use of the time tested phrase c-h-i-n-k in the armor, which the NDN filters to Asian-American of Chinese descent in the armor because they forget its original use in favor of those who can only see it as racist. Baloney. A commenter above is promoting the idea that cockloft should carry the same sort of stigma; though I believe this person saw it as a sexual term not a racist one; s-----. My point, again, is that the answer is in remaining intelligent even in the face of the corrupt, the answer is not found in the suppression of free speech.

OP writes:

If they do ban the use of c-o-c-k-l-o-f-t, if will mean that they accept the definition some deviant gives it in favor of its historic and actual definition. Thereby, they will elevate the offensive/questionable definition into favor. Said another way, they will be telling the world that they prefer the deviated definition over the actual version. Thus, it would be the NDN which is creating coarse language where it does not now exist.

absolutsti writes:

that is a very powerful picture

unfatcat writes:

In response to OP:

Individual responsibility goes along with individual rights. For instance, when one broadcasts a statement to the public, one should be willing to put one's name on it.

There is no valid opinion without knowledge and a personal signature (responsibility). The rest is just "blah, blah, blah" or sometimes raw disclosed info causing havoc and even suicides.

floridacarpenter writes:

in response to JunkYardDog_1:

I also worked there as a carpenter for Boran, Craig and Schreck in the 70's.

Glad to hear everyone is safe and hope they can recover some of their belongings.

Not many remember "BCS": JunkYardDog!!!! Long long time ago

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

in response to floridacarpenter:

Not many remember "BCS": JunkYardDog!!!! Long long time ago

I mostly worked the trusses, sheeting, facia and soffit on many of BCS's jobs from 1976-82 and also the ones in the Naples Bath and Tennis Club. we probably know each other.

i_get_the_last_laugh writes:

Great job NNFD, CCEMS and GGFD this should shut up the anti firefighting mouths, for a few days.

dolph66 writes:

in response to JunkYardDog_1:

I mostly worked the trusses, sheeting, facia and soffit on many of BCS's jobs from 1976-82 and also the ones in the Naples Bath and Tennis Club. we probably know each other.

I also worked on BCS jobs Bath and Tennis club house and condos.Worked on Jones & Braido and Kraft Jobs. They threw them up It's BCBE now. but never call Mr. E Korkie"

mr_1_term_proposition writes:

in response to JunkYardDog_1:

I mostly worked the trusses, sheeting, facia and soffit on many of BCS's jobs from 1976-82 and also the ones in the Naples Bath and Tennis Club. we probably know each other.

Let the bromance begin!

wentfishn writes:

in response to Beachglow:

It's about time for NDN to remove all these nasty people who keep making inappropriate comments on these blogs. You can easily see who they are by all their comments being removed on a consistent basis. Please do so NDN. No one else would people up with these creeps.

Good post!I agree.

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

in response to mr_1_term_proposition:

Let the bromance begin!

Let your ignorance shine!

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

in response to slogoodland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Beach View condos, worked there also.

http://g.co/maps/9jq7b

swampbuggy writes:

I worked alot of those old BCS jobs with Brack and Jackson electric.

floridacarpenter writes:

in response to swampbuggy:

I worked alot of those old BCS jobs with Brack and Jackson electric.

I guess there are quite a few of us old Far&& still around. I haven't thought about Brack electric in years.

tampacoco writes:

You just hate hearing about house fires and having folks leave and not knowing were they will stay. I'm happy to hear nobody was killed and that is a blessing. My prayers to all those folks and hope they all come out ok.

gl1800 writes:

in response to ISPEAKFORGOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I pity you.

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