Early morning fire on Siesta Key destroys Sandy Cove condominium

Owners out of town at the time; no one reported to have been injured

A two-story condominium on north Siesta Key’s Sandy Cove Road was destroyed by a fire that broke out in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, the Sarasota County Fire Department has reported.

The residents were out of the country at the time, the department noted. No injuries were reported among other residents. “Neighboring condominiums were evacuated for safety,” a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office advisory said.

At 5:45 a.m. on July 23, the Sheriff’s Office alerted the public to the fire, pointing out. “Crews are actively working on the scene.” The advisory said the fire started about 4:10 a.m.

“This residential neighborhood has no outlet,” the advisory added. “Sandy Cove Road is closed.”

The Sarasota County Fire Department reports on the incident showed that firefighters ended up remaining on the scene until just before dawn on July 24, so they could deal with “hot spots” that had shown up sporadically after the primary blaze was extinguished.

One of the reports explained that the Fire Department requested that the state fire marshal investigate the cause of the incident. The fire marshal ultimately determined that the blaze began as a result of an electrical problem. Although The Sarasota News Leader requested a copy of the fire marshal’s report, it did not receive that document prior to the deadline for publication of this issue.

The Fire Department said that the “investigation took several hours,” with the State Fire Marshall requesting “a second unit and arson dog.”

The condominium was No. 3-C in a four-unit building standing at 39 Sandy Cove Road, the Fire Department noted. Both the property and the contents prior to the blaze were valued at $261,548.04; the same figures were listed as the estimated losses.

The owners of the condominium are Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office website says.

The Property Appraiser’s Office record for the condominium notes that the structure had 1,765 square feet of living area in the two stories. The gross square footage was 2,722 square feet. The record adds that the couple purchased it in May 2006 for $1,310,000.

The Property Appraiser’s Office lists the market value of the property as $1,345,900 this year. Zillow estimates the value of the condominium at $1,742,600.

The condominium had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, the Property Appraiser’s Office record shows. The two-story building in which it was located was constructed in 1968, but the record indicates that improvements were completed in 2003.

One of the Fire Department reports pointed out that firefighters found no indication that sprinklers had been installed in the unit.

That report further explained that Lighthouse Property Management “maintains the common areas” of the complex. A county fire official contacted a woman with that company, the report said, to inform her that “she would need to arrange to have the property secured.”

Altogether, the Fire Department dispatched nine engines and six EMS units to the scene, with a crew from Fire Station 13 on Siesta being the first to arrive, at 4:17 a.m. The reports say that a total of 39 firefighters/medics dealt with the incident.

“Upon arrival,” the first report points out, the firefighters found “a heavy body of fire through the roof.”

The second report that the Fire Department issued on the incident covered the period of time that units dealt with a “fire watch” and handled “Salvage and overhaul.” That alarm went out at 4:31 p.m. on July 23, the report said. The last unit left the scene at 5:36 a.m. on July 24.

Eight engines with 20 firefighters were on the scene for that work, the report noted. “During the fire watch,” that report continued, “Engine 15 used approximately 1500 gallons of water to cool down hot spots” on one side of the building.

That report also indicated that the reasons so many personnel were kept on the site were the strong winds from the Gulf of Mexico and “the potential life safety hazard (multiple occupied condos in close proximity) …”