In a strange twist of fate, a young Mount Dora firefighter had to sit on the sidelines as flames tore through his apartment building last month. On May 29, Kristian Williams wasn’t home when he received a video showing his Oviedo apartment building fully engulfed in flames.
The 24-year-old Homestead native rushed to the scene and stood helpless, watching as local firefighters battled the blaze at the three-story, 50-unit Park Place apartment building.
Williams joined Mount Dora Fire Department in December, 2018, and immediately felt a deep connection to the community and the department. He’s best known to residents as the caring firefighter/paramedic that was photographed in April rescuing a tiny duckling from a storm drain in a Publix parking lot.
Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the apartment building fire that started around 10:30 p.m. The raging flames, which crews battled for hours, left an estimated fifty percent of the building destroyed and caused structural damage so severe that the building will be demolished. As a result, over 40 residents were reportedly displaced and Williams was among them. Despite the size of the blaze, no injuries were reported.
Williams considers himself fortunate that he was able to retrieve a few undamaged items, but many families were left with nothing. The kind-hearted public servant described the family across the hall from him that lost everything, so he set up a GoFundMe account to raise funds for them, himself and the other residents affected by the tragedy to help cover the costs of replacing essentials and relocation. Anyone wishing to help can go to the GoFundMe here.
Williams recently moved into temporary housing in Mount Dora where he plans to take time to get on his feet before planting new roots in the city where he serves.
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ABOVE: Williams' burned apartment building. (photo by Kristian Williams)
ABOVE: Williams with the rescued duckling in the storm drain.