duck key

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys



























A fire destroyed two rental town villas in the Santuary section of Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key this past December, 2008.

Villas numbered 7208 and 7210 on Simran Lane were engulfed in flame when the Conch Key fire fighters arrived. The structure fire endangered other nearby units necessitating assistance from multiple fire crews. Fire fighter crews came from Layton, Marathon, Islamorada, Key Largo and Big Pine Key.

Property records show that one of the villas was owned by John Allison of Miami. Allison is an attorney and has represented developer Pritim Singh. The other villa was by Gene and Barbara Allison of Davie, Florida.


The Citizen reported that the fire was under investigation by the Monroe County Fire Marshal's Office, however, both villas were demolished following the fire by order of the County's Assistant Fire Marshal because of safety concerns.



During the building of Hawk's Cay Village the developer was successful in obtaining several setback variances so that villa buildings could spaced closer together.

The overall design of the development called for clusters of 5 to 7 attached units. Openings between clusters were planned for fire truck access.

Variances were obtained allowing reduced building side setbacks between clusters.

Duplex units facing the residential community of Duck Key were not impacted by variances as the Homeowner's Association had negotiated with the developer a minimum of 30% open space between Lake Lucille and canal units

In the instance of the Santuary villa fire, Interim Fire Chief Jim Callahan is reported to have said, "It was a miracle the fire didn't burn other homes down."


Notice in the picture above how close Santuary Villas appear to be to one another. Were variances from setback requirements between Santuary villa properties obtained?



The above two Santuary villas appear to be especially close.

The Duck Key Homeowners' Association discussed the setback variance issue for the first group of Hawk's Cay Village buildings and raised no objection at that time. Buildings constructed with cement board siding and metal roofs were thought to be resistant to fire spreading from unit to unit and the Association's primary concerns involved appearance and community impacts of the development.

Interestingly from the stand point of metal roofs, Steven Bello, the Hawks Cay resort manager, was reported as stating "I think that the metal units on the roof made it challenging to put out. The heat couldn't escape and they had to go through windows."

Building codes have a purpose. In light of the 5 alarm fire at The Sanctuary on Duck Key, the County needs to review if setback variances could have contributed to spread of the fire between Sanctuary units.

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