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Blaze destroys 100-year-old Pasco home

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2002

ZEPHYRHILLS -- A century-old home burned to the ground Saturday.

Several people called 911 about 6:15 p.m. to report a fire at the wooden home off unpaved Fairview Heights Road.

One of the callers was Troy Fonder. He and his wife saw the smoke from more than 2 miles away and drove to the home, which is surrounded by orange groves.

"It was blazing, and I didn't see anyone around," he said. "There was a ball of fire way above the (utility) poles."

Zephyrhills Fire Rescue Chief Robert Hartwig said it took firefighters from Dade City, Zephyrhills and Pasco County about half an hour to control the blaze. He said there were no signs that anyone was injured or killed in the fire, but officials were having trouble communicating with the Spanish-speaking men who rent the home at 35950 Fairview Heights Road.

They rent it from George Neukom, who formerly owned a landmark Zephyrhills drugstore and whose family, the Smiths, owns orange groves and has lived in east Pasco for seven generations.

"This is where our family started," he said, pointing at the pile of black wood. "Right there."

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