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Apartment fire sends woman, 98, to hospital

By Times staff and Times Wires
Published March 4, 2007


TAMPA - An apartment fire Saturday morning on the 10th floor of a senior high-rise downtown sent a 98-year-old woman to a hospital due to smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Tampa Fire Rescue Capt. Bill Wade said the fire started when Alfreda T. Benge left a plastic bucket on the stove in her apartment around 10 a.m.

Firefighters found Benge in the smoke-filled apartment, carried her to safety and extinguished the small fire using water from the sink, Wade said.

Benge's injuries were not life threatening, he said. Several residents evacuated the 240-apartment Tampa Baptist Manor Towers at 215 Grand Central Ave. and no other injuries were reported, Wade said.

"This will make a good story when we go to the bar later," said resident Jack Gee.


Man charged with sexual battery of girl, 15

TAMPA - Police arrested a 39-year-old Tampa man Saturday morning and charged him with sexual battery. Police said Willie Lee Boyd of 1722 Warrington Way was staying the night with a friend when he sneaked into the room of a 15-year-old girl and began sexually molesting her. The girl woke and authorities were notified. Boyd was being held without bond Saturday.


Travolta gives $15,000 to tornado victims

OCALA - John Travolta donated $15,000 to central Florida tornado victims at the hometown premiere of his new film Wild Hogs. Travolta presented a personal check for $15,000 to Lady Lake Mayor Max Pullen before the film screening Friday night in Ocala that raised an additional $15,000 in donations. A string of tornadoes killed 21 people, many from Lady Lake, and destroyed hundreds of home as they skipped across central Florida in the early morning of Feb. 2.


Deputies search for boy who vanished on way to visit grandmother

WESLEY CHAPEL - Authorities in Pasco County were searching late Saturday for a 10-year-old boy who left his home to visit his grandmother at her nearby home and vanished.

Officials said the boy, Christopher Steven Suri, had no history of running away.

Family members said the boy left his home at 6031 SaddleTree Drive around 5 p.m. Saturday, possibly carrying his toy sword. They called authorities at 6:11 p.m., when he did not arrive at the grandmother's house at 6641 Old Pasco Road, about 2 miles away.

Saturday night, sheriff's deputies looking for the child had been joined by about two dozen family members, neighbors and friends, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Searchers were concentrating on rain-drenched woods near the boy's home as temperatures dropped into the mid 50s. Canine units and a detachment of the Sheriff's Office juvenile investigation unit were also sent to the scene, the Sheriff's Office said.

Anyone with information about the child was asked to call 911 in Pasco County.



[Last modified March 4, 2007, 00:19:21]

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