• Inspectors found expired fire extinguishers two days after massive Jacksonville apartment fire

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - City fire inspectors found expired extinguishers inside families’ apartments two days after a massive fire in Northwest Jacksonville.

    Tuesday night’s fire sent three children and their mother to the hospital in critical condition.

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    In all, 12 people lost their homes at Calloway Cove, formerly known as Washington Heights.

    On Friday, city spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton told Action News Jax in an email that city inspectors found “additional safety measures needed to be in place” in other buildings at the complex after the fire.

    That raised a red flag for Action News Jax because, for the past two days, we’ve seen apartment workers carrying around dozens of fire extinguishers.

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    On Thursday, Millennia Housing Management spokesperson Valerie Jerome told Action News Jax the extinguishers were for “newly constructed units.”

    On Friday, Action News Jax called City Fire Marshal Chief Kevin Jones.

    Jones said his inspectors found occupied units with expired fire extinguishers Thursday.

    When Action News Jax reached back out to Millennia Housing Management with that information, Jerome emailed us, “In addition to installing extinguishers in new construction units, as a result of the inspections necessitated by the ongoing investigation of the fire, we are also now replacing fire extinguishers as necessary.”

    Jones said his inspectors will be back out at Calloway Cove in a month to make sure those safety changes have been made.

    An Action News Jax Investigation exposed the apartment complex has a history of fire safety violations.

    Calloway Cove failed its city fire marshal inspection last year, with four fire code violations.

    It passed reinspection six months later.

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development inspectors found life threatening health and safety deficiencies in Calloway Cove’s past three federal inspections.

    A HUD spokesperson told Action News Jax, when inspectors find those significant deficiencies, they must be corrected immediately.

    Action News Jax requested Calloway Cove’s full HUD inspection and reinspection reports to make sure that happened.

    HUD also found broken or missing smoke detectors during the apartment complex’s inspections in 2016 and 2015, but not during its most recent inspection in 2018.

    Calloway Cove scored 82 out of 100 points on its February 2018 inspection; that falls in the range where HUD doesn’t have to inspect it for another two years.

    Millennia Housing Management turned down Action News Jax’s multiple requests for an interview about the complex’s history of fire safety violations. 

    The management company has not answered any of our emailed questions about what it’s done to make fire safety improvements either.

    On Friday, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department released six 911 calls from Tuesday night’s fire. 

    Action News Jax heard the first sirens at Calloway Cove about two minutes after the first woman dialed 911.

    Multiple callers reported hearing or seeing an explosion. 

    “I’m looking at it. Something blew up. Oh my God,” said one caller.

    “It’s still exploding,” said another caller.

    A family member told Action News Jax that Danielle Ethridge and her five children were home when their gas oven exploded.

    A spokesperson for the state fire marshal said it's still investigating what caused the fire.

    Danielle Ethridge and her children -- Carla, Taj and Amira -- were hospitalized in critical condition with serious burns.

    “We’re taking him down to the ambulance now,” the sixth 911 caller said.

    She then tried to comfort one of his sisters.

    “Your brother is right there. They got your brother. Calm down,” she said.

    The apartment management company is asking people to hold off on donating items for families affected by the fire until early next week because of storage issues, according to Kimbleton.

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