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Three escape explosive fire
Oxygen tanks explode in the Brooksville home, which was destroyed.
By JOHN FRANK, Times Staff Writer
Published September 6, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - Fire officials are investigating the cause of an afternoon blaze that had oxygen tanks exploding inside a mobile home in the Brookridge community and sent an elderly resident to the hospital.
The fire started in the front porch area of a mobile home on Diablo Drive about 2:49 p.m. but the cause is unknown. All three residents managed to escape, though 79-year-old Cora Marbrey was taken to the hospital because she is dependent on oxygen and insulin.
A number of oxygen tanks were in the home at the time of the fire, creating dangerous conditions for the 16 firefighters who battled the blaze in the stifling afternoon heat.
District Chief Jack Sanfilippo with Hernando Fire Rescue said three firefighters were outside the residence and another was inside when they heard four or five loud pops that produced bursts of flames.
When it blows, it's a big fireball, he said, sending shrapnel into the air. No firefighters were injured.
Firefighters managed to save a neighboring home from the 5- to 10-foot-high flames by spraying it down with water. But Marbrey's double-wide was a loss.
"It's burnt from one end to the other," Sanfilippo said.
The rush of sirens and the smoke attracted a number of the mostly retired residents who came to see the commotion.
Mike Famiglietti heard the exploding oxygen tanks from his house two blocks away and came from his home to investigate. "We just heard a couple of popping noises and saw all the black smoke," he said.
"It sounded like a car tire exploding," said his buddy, David Chaney.