A fire broke out at a Tampa apartment complex Sunday morning, forcing some second-story residents to escape using a ladder and in one instance a bed sheet.

  • Fire happened at Regency Square Apartments
  • Fire ruled accidental
  • Tenant frying chicken when she stepped away

James McNicholas was sitting at home after running some morning errands when his neighbor started knocking on his door.

“I opened the door and I could see the reflection of the fire coming from the hallway on the tile floor,” he said.

Tampa Fire Rescue got the call around 9:30 Sunday morning that Regency Square Apartments in Tampa was on fire. Twenty-four apartments had to be evacuated. Tampa Fire Rescue, Tampa Police and residents helped get everyone to safety.

“I was pretty much going door to door banging on the door yelling ‘Fire!’ down the hallway,” McNicholas said. People used ladders and bed sheets to get down from the second floor.

"People were jumping over balconies and stuff just to get out of the building," McNicholas said.

Jason Penny with Tampa Fire said the building had good firewalls in the attic that prevented the fire from spreading. Firefighters had the fire under control within 20 minutes. No one was hurt.

“The good thing is everyone evacuated safely,” Penny said. “We had no injuries reported and we didn’t have to transport anyone to the hospital. Which in a building on this size, for a second alarm fire, that in itself is a victory.”

Investigators said the fire was accidental. A tenant was frying chicken when she stepped away for a minute. That’s when the fire started.