WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WTSP) – An overnight fire at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel destroyed a 16-unit building housing 28 boarding school students attending the Saddlebrook Preparatory Academy, a school for aspiring tennis and golf professionals.
According to Shawn Whited of Pasco County Fire Rescue, the fire started around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. A student with a keen sense of smell picked up on the smoke and alerted others in the building to the fire.
“The kids policed themselves. They paid attention. They knew what they needed to do and they got it done and all the students were out,” said Saddlebrook Resort General Manager Pat Ciaccio.
Ciaccio said Saddlebrook Preparatory Academy has 97 students in grades 3-12 from 26 countries across the globe, and is just one part of the resort, which also holds more than 500 guests. The students were staying in a building that serves as a dormitory.
Whited said the 2-story building is a total loss, as there was substantial damage to the roof in addition to the rooms affected by fire, water and smoke.
It took 55 firefighters to get the fire under control. Initially, there were some problems with water supply.
Ciaccio said the building had been renovated two years ago with new fire walls, which helped prevent the fire from being even worse.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire. Fire officials did not report any injuries. The affected students and two adults were moved to another building.
Ciaccio said the students were scheduled to take their final exams Thursday.