Two fires leave families homeless

One weekend fire is in East Tampa and another blaze is in St. Petersburg.

By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET, Times Staff Writer
Published September 10, 2007

TAMPA - A candle burning in a bathroom sparked a fire that left an East Tampa family homeless Sunday morning.

Another fire in St. Petersburg put another family in the street the night before.

In Tampa, it took crews from Fire Rescue 15 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which caused about $50,000 in damage to the bungalow at 1405 E Louise Ave., Capt. Bill Wade said.

After the fire, which was first reported at 8:22 a.m., little damage was visible outside the house. But inside, Wade said, firefighters found poor living conditions and a refrigerator packed with rotting food.

"There was no electricity," Wade wrote in a news release. "To turn on the water at the spigots you had to use a wrench."

Wade said it appeared that Sheila Currey, 47, rented the house and lived there with six people, most of whom were her children, ages 26, 18, 15, 14, 17 months and 1 month.

No one was home at the time of the fire, Wade said. Currey told investigators she left the house around midnight last night.

The house had likely been without electricity for months.

"They were using candles for light," he said.

Code Enforcement officials condemned the property Sunday.

Fire investigators contacted the Red Cross and the Department of Children and Families. The Red Cross said they provided the family a motel room, clothing, food and baby formula.

On Sunday afternoon, crates, garbage bags and stacks of belongings covered the porch. Two baby strollers sat on the front lawn.

In St. Petersburg, a family of four found itself without its home on the 3500 block of 40th Street S Sunday after an overnight fire. The Red Cross was providing assistance in this case, too.

The St. Petersburg Fire Department provided no information.

Times staff writer Elena Lesley contributed to this report.