One dead and six families displaced after Panama City Beach fire

Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 3:39 AM CST
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Several Panama City families are looking for a new place to call home after a fire ripped through their apartment complex killing one man who was visiting.

Briarwood Apartments resident Josef Halamka was jolted awake by his wife yelling about a fire.

"My wife wakes me up and she said 'Hey, get up! Get up! It's smoke, it's on fire!,'" said Halamka.

Around 12:30 Tuesday night, the Panama City Fire Department responded to a call from the apartments off Beck Avenue.

"When I saw fire on the roof I said it's bad, it's bad," said Halamka.

Fifteen firefighters worked to contain the flames. Fire officials confirm two units in the building have smoke damage.

"People were, you know, asleep in their apartments, it caught a lot of people off guard, but thank God everyone was able to get out safe," said Property Manager, John Catchen-Dunne.

While all residents were out safe, one man visiting the complex was taken to the hospital where he later died.

"He was a friend of the person that lived in the unit," said Catchen-Dunne.

An identity is not confirmed and the Panama City Fire Department continues to investigate the case.

Neighbors are saying it was a terrifying experience.

"I still okay but I thought, I was scared to be poisoned you know, by smoke, smoke, and smoke," said Halamka.

The Red Cross stepped in to help six families with a place to stay and other assistance based on their needs.

Catchen-Dunne says they're planning on getting all residents back in the building after repairing the units.

The case is still under investigation.