One killed in Venice fire

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County Fire Department crews spent about three hours battling a blaze at a condo complex on Bal Harbour Drive in Venice. Officials say the fire started in a home at about 3:45 p.m. and quickly spread to the surrounding condos.

A 48-year-old man was killed and 15 people were displaced. At this time, it’s unclear how the fire started. Smoke billowed out of holes in the roof throughout the afternoon.

Billy Freeman’s home was damaged during the blaze. While Freeman waited with friends behind the fire trucks, he asked firefighters to rescue his beloved pet turtle, Earl. He was overjoyed when the rescuers brought the animal to him, but was saddened to hear about the death of one of his neighbors.

“You can always lose belongings and stuff. You can never get a person back, you know? It’s just very unfortunate,” Freeman said.

The sheriff’s office is conducting a death investigation, and the fire marshal arrived later in the evening. It will be up to the fire marshal to find out how this fire started.

In the meantime, the American Red Cross brought water and food for the displaced residents and will help them find shelter. News Channel 8 will have updates to this story as it becomes available. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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