Fire causes heavy damage to Smugglers Cove condominium complex in Avon Lake

AVON LAKE, Ohio — Residents of a dozen condo units in Avon Lake are unable to return home after a garage fire spread to a building in Smugglers Cove Condominiums Saturday morning.

The resort is located on Electric Boulevard off Miller Road in the northwest of the city.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said Patti Zinn, a 21-year-old resident at the resort. “When I came out here, there were fire trucks here, all over there. No one could come in or out.

She said another resident, a retired firefighter, was the first to spot smoke coming from a garage on Saturday morning.

“He saw the black smoke coming out of the back of the garage, knew it was wrong because he was a firefighter, walked around, saw the grill on fire, started getting people out and called the fire department. And he said at that point it exploded,” Zinn said, adding that the neighbor rang all 12 doors until everyone was awake before helping them evacuate.

The Avon Lake Fire Department said crews arrived around 8:41 a.m. The structure, which consisted of a six-bay garage and 12 residential apartments, was on fire. Firefighters used “an offensive attack strategy” to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Mutual aid from neighboring departments intervened on the scene.

In addition to the fire damage, parts of the structure that did not catch fire still suffered heavy smoke and water damage. The garage was deemed a total loss, authorities said. Three cars and a motorcycle were also destroyed in the fire. Three other vehicles suffered heat damage. A condominium was destroyed and significant damage was caused to several others.

No injuries were reported. Several condos were deemed uninhabitable and the Red Cross responded to help displaced families, authorities said.

“We were very lucky that the gentleman walked the dog and could get everyone out, make sure no one got hurt,” Zinn said.

Other community members were offering help on Saturday.

Isla’s Ice Cream on Lear Road posted on social media: “If anyone sees this who is affected/had to evacuate and has no place to go you are more than welcome to come hang out at Isla’s.”

The owners offered a safe place to decompress and a free meal for anyone displaced by the fire, as well as first responders.

“For someone, a family like yours, to be affected by something so horrible – it’s really heartbreaking to see this,” said Mikayla Hyland, co-manager of Isla’s. “We want to give back to the community and pay it forward.”

The exact cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The Ohio Fire Marshal is assisting the Avon Lake Fire Department with the investigation.

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Lora M. Andrew