'It's devastating': Grandmother remembers 11-year-old boy killed in Altamonte Springs apartment fire

The grandmother of 11-year-old Romon Thomas, who was killed in an apartment fire in Altamonte Springs early Wednesday morning, told FOX 35 News she still can't believe he didn't make it out alive. 

"It's the way it happened, what happened to him, how it happened. It's devastating," Lucinda Simmons said. 

According to the Seminole County Fire Department, the fire started shortly after 1:15 a.m. Wednesday at the apartment complex near Ballard Street and Beverly Avenue. Over 70 firefighters responded to the scene, and at least seven lived-in units were damaged. 

"Don't nobody want to get a phone call and say your grandson or your son or daughter ... has perished because of a fire," Simmons said. "I don't wish that on my worst enemy."

Kerby Kadet, the father of Romon's best friend at the complex, attempted to rescue him from the apartment.

"It was the other son that was pretty much just crying out for help. He's like, ‘Hey, my house is on fire. My brother is still upstairs,’" Kadet recalled. "As soon as I crossed over to the other side of the complex, I just felt heat, like the most extraordinary heat that I ever felt in my life."

The flames, unfortunately, proved to be too strong.


"A kid comes to my house to come for help, and I couldn't be the superhero that I would like to be for him, you know? It just sucks," Kadet said.


Romon Thomas

Romon was a third-grade student at Lake Orienta Elementary School. Simmons hopes those who knew him will remember him for his smile, humor, and kindness.

"He's just a lovely, sweet kid. A child, you know? And I'm truly going to miss my grandson," she said.

Romon had four other siblings. Simmons says they're all doing OK. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz says the last full fire inspection at the complex was in 2019, which the complex passed. The inspections don't happen every year, but Martz says every issue that has been observed at the complex in the past has been corrected.