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2 die as flames consume mobile home

The fire may have started in the living room and spread to a bedroom where the bodies of a man and a woman were found.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 17, 2002


FLORAL CITY -- Two people died early Sunday when fire swept through a single-wide mobile home. The identities of the people killed were not released Sunday, and it was not known how the fire started.

Next-door neighbor Virginia Drummond called 911 at 5:42 a.m. to report a raging fire at 7320 S Eastlake Drive, a few blocks north of Orange Avenue and east of U.S. 41.

"I just heard some noise, got up and looked out my front door, and it was burning pretty good," Drummond said. "It actually sounded like it was pouring down rain."

Firefighters from the Floral City, Inverness and Highlands volunteer departments arrived at 6:02 a.m. and extinguished the blaze within a half-hour, county Public Safety Director Charles Poliseno said.

Firefighters found the bodies of a man and a woman among the charred ruins, said Gloria Perrotti of the state Fire Marshal's Office.

"Even before the neighbor called 911, the fire was blowing out the windows," Perrotti said.

It appears the fire started in the living room at the front of the 550-square-foot home, then worked its way back to the master bedroom in the rear, where the bodies were found, said Sgt. Steve Vitt of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Medical Examiner's Office in Leesburg had not identified the bodies.

County property records show the quarter-acre lot belongs to Kathy J. Thompson and her mother, Mildred F. Jennings. Neighbors say Thompson lived in the mobile home, which was built in 1971.

The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire. The blaze singed some overhanging tree branches but left a nearby storage shed undamaged, except for a window firefighters broke to make sure no one was inside.

Jack Ruggiero, a neighbor who lives several doors down, said he heard a sound "like a muffled explosion" about 10 or 10:30 Saturday night.

"I looked outside, and my dog was barking, but I didn't see nothing," he said.

Others awoke to the blare of fire engines racing to the flaming mobile home.

"I was so worried because of the fire hazard," said neighbor Alice Smith. "I just watched from my window and tried to stay out of the way."

-- Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached at (352) 860-7303 or bhall@sptimes.com.

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