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Mobile home fire kills man, 64

A stove left on is the apparent culprit. He is remembered as a generous man.

By JOSE CARDENAS, Times Staff Writer
Published August 24, 2007


LARGO - The American flag that Paul Marcotte hung in front of his mobile home was about all that remained after the fire.

"He was very patriotic," said Pam Bowlin, 53, a longtime girlfriend of Marcotte who took the smoke-damaged flag to her mobile home.

Early Tuesday, Largo Fire and Rescue workers pulled Marcotte's body from the ashes that had been his bedroom at Bay Ranch Mobile Home Park.

The 64-year-old man died in the fire that started just after midnight when he apparently turned on the stove and went to sleep.

"The fire was determined to be accidental in nature," said Jim Warman, Largo Fire and Rescue marshal.

Marcotte was originally from Vermont, said his son, David Marcotte, 41. The younger Marcotte lives in Safety Harbor with his girlfriend, Teri Bach, 37, and 8-year-old son, Christopher.

His father has two sisters and three brothers in Connecticut and Massachusetts, said David Marcotte.

His ex-wife, Bonnie Ray, lives in Seminole.

The elder Marcotte moved his family to Florida in 1972, his son said. Among his jobs, he owned a machine shop called Seminole Mold of Florida.

"He was the last to get paid," said David Marcotte. "He helped people all the time ... He would give the shirt off his back."

Marcotte lived at Bay Ranch, 7349 Ulmerton Road, for about eight years, said Bowlin. He had been retired for about three.

Bowlin said that while she no longer lived with Marcotte, they had remained close.

She and a few friends joined Marcotte for karaoke at a local bar Monday evening. He returned to his mobile home around 10:30 p.m.

Residents said the flames illuminated the sprawling park, lined with tightly-packed homes.

"I opened this door and all I could see was the fire over there," said Marjorie Meeks, 85, who lives across the narrow street from Marcotte. "As soon as I saw the fire, I knew I should call 911."

Bowlin waited outside the burned-down home until Marcotte's body was taken away around 5:30 a.m.

"I didn't want him to come out in a body bag by himself," Bowlin said. "I said a prayer over his body."

The home was totally destroyed, Warman said. He estimated the damage at $30,000, including the home, its contents and Marcotte's Dodge truck.

Marcotte was a helicopter mechanic in the U.S. Army in the 1960s, his son said. He loved fishing. Weedon Island was one of his favorite places.

"He really enjoyed that," said Meeks.

Around the mobile home park, Marcotte helped residents fix their homes, particularly when strong winds knocked things down.

"Most of the people here are old," said Sharon Walsh, 59. "Paul would be there to pick it up with a smile on his face."

Marcotte will be cremated, his son said.

He's planning a memorial service at Bay Pines VA Medical Center.

The residents of Bay Ranch also are planning a memorial.

"Everybody loved Paul," said Walsh. "We need to have some closure at the park."

Jose Cardenas can be reached at 445-4224 or jcardenas@sptimes.com