Fire breaks out in student housing at Saddlebrook Resort in Pasco

Photo courtesy Pasco County Fire Rescue

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WFLA) — Pasco County Fire Rescue crews responded to a three-alarm fire at the Saddlebrook Resort early Thursday morning.

The fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. When firefighters arrived, the building was fully-involved in fire. Crews immediately called additional units to the scene.

The fire erupted inside a 16-unit, two-story building at the golf, tennis and spa resort. The building was occupied with 28 students from the Saddlebrook Preparatory School, which consists of aspiring tennis and golf professionals in the 8th grade up to seniors in high school. Two resident assistants were also present. They’re from around the world.

Pat Ciaccio, general manager of the resort, said a student smelled smoke and alerted others. Security pulled the fire alarm and all students got out. “He smelled smoke, so he kind of went outside to look up and saw smoke and from that point in he just kicked in to what we train every month.”

Ciacco said the student then went to wake up other students. “Got up all of the other students up and alert and awake and was going door to door, got all of his friends out because at the end of the day, they’re student athletes, but they are friends.”

There are around 300 guests at the resort right now, Ciaccio said. All students and guests have been accounted for and no one was hurt.

“We board students from 26 countries. Within an hour of the fire they were tucked back into bed in other units,” Ciaccio said.

At least 50 firefighters were at the resort at the height of the fire. None of them were hurt.

An investigation is underway to determine how it started. Fire chief Shawn Whited said weather and appliances like washers and dryers have been ruled out as causes. He noted that the fire started inside an occupied room, in the middle of the building.

Pictures from the scene show a huge hole in the roof. The building is a complete loss, according to fire officials.

Photo: WFLA
Photo: WFLA
Photo courtesy Pasco County Fire Rescue
Photo courtesy Pasco County Fire Rescue

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