SUNRISE BEACH - Eight condos at Eleven West Drive in Sunrise Beach are considered a total loss, and four others are damaged after a fire ripped through the complex around 9 p.m. Sunday.
"The occupants had been able to get in there and salvage some of their belongings. But the buildings themselves will probably be a total loss," Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District Chief Dennis Reilly said.
Firefighters say there wasn't enough water, and they had to use water from the lake to battle the fire. It took around two hours to get the fire under control. The condos are at the top of a cliff, which was just one factor making the effort difficult.
"We have water supply issues that we always have to deal with down here," Reilly said. "It’s a complicated operation to say the least. To pump water out of the lake we had two fire boats here. We actually had to lay hose lines all the way down to the lake. Fire boats had to pump water back up to the apparatus so we could keep the streams on the fire.”
Reilly said using the boats adds more people and more equipment into them mix.
"So, I would say a lack of fire hydrants does complicate the operations and they make them more difficult,” he said.
Bob Shouse lives in the complex and said he was lucky, but some of his neighbors weren't.
"Would have to say my condo is essentially unhurt - while the ones directly above me is pretty much wiped out," he said.
Shouse said someone knocked on his door, warning him of the fire.
"Somebody came came knocking at my door and says your house is on fire...get out quick so I said you got to be kidding me," he said.
Neighbor Todd Sales saw the flames and was surprised at how large the fire was. He even saw the fire spread from one roof to the next.
"We watched it grow from the one roof over to the next roof over to the next roof," Sales said. "We were just like ‘Oh please don't go to the next one’ and bam, the flames would shoot out and it was just terrible.”
The community at the complex is very tight-knit. Sales said he feels the pain and loss the victims are going through.
"I didn’t know them personally, but we’re a tight knit community here, nice community and we see everybody," Sales said. "Everybody is nice and jovial and it’s just a tragedy to see the loss that they all incurred.”
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and is currently under investigation. No one was hurt.
"I just thank God there was no loss of life and all these items, couches, pictures, those can be replaced; lives can’t," Sales said. "That’s the silver lining of the whole thing that no one was lost and no pets.”