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Fire kills Dunedin woman

The apartment didn't have electricity and the occupants relied on candles.

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 25, 2008

Friends and acquaintances gather at Christina Foley's apartment at 1017 Michigan Drive E in Dunedin on Thursday. Foley's body was found inside a doorway.
[Douglas R. Clifford | Times]
[Special to the Times]
Christina Foley, 38, moved from Massachusetts four years ago and loved her Boston Red Sox. She was described as fun-loving, full of energy.

DUNEDIN - Christina Foley was struggling to get money to fix her car, which broke down a few weeks ago.

Money was so tight, her power was cut off and neighbors said she used candles for light.

Authorities are still investigating whether one of those candles sparked the fire that claimed Foley's life at about a quarter past midnight Thursday at her apartment, 1017 Michigan Drive E.

Dunedin firefighters found Foley's body just inside the front door. She was 38.

The fire is believed to be an accident, said Dunedin Fire Marshal Bill McElligott. The smoke detector did not have a battery. A neighbor tried to rescue Foley but was unsuccessful, he said.

A cat found inside the apartment also died. A chihuahua was revived by firefighters. No one else was injured.

Customer information is confidential, said Cherie Jacobs, spokeswoman for Progress Energy. However, she did confirm Foley's apartment did not have electricity at the time of the fire.

Friends and family members described Foley as fun-loving and full of energy.

Last summer, Foley visited her sister, Beth Chartier in Massachusetts. They went out every night and attended a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

"She dragged me out," said Chartier, 42. "I ended up having an awesome time."

Foley was the fifth of seven children in her family - the fun one. She was a runner who craved pasta and went crazy when her Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

She grew up in Massachusetts and left for Florida with her brother, Jamie Foley, 30, about four years ago after their father died. She was looking for warmer weather and beaches. She was living with her brother, who had stayed at a friend's house the night of the fire, Chartier said.

Anita Charles, who worked with Foley at the Tarpon Turtle Grill & Marina, said she tried last week to give her friend money to help pay her power bill.

"She wouldn't take it," Charles said. "She was just very strong and wouldn't take anything from anyone. She had to do it herself."

Foley, who went by Chrissie, was a bartender at the Tarpon Turtle from the day it opened in March 2006 until six months ago. Most recently, she was employed at the Tilted Kilt pub in Clearwater.

She was the personal hair dresser to her friends and surprised them with her own hair, said Brenda Kleine, general manager at the Tarpon Turtle. Sometimes her hair would be short, other times she'd wear extensions. She dyed it burgundy and bright red. She made funny fish faces and her friends joked about her Boston accent.

"She was our little wild thing," Kleine said. "She was our little firecracker."

Foley wrote on her MySpace page that her passions are "music, motorcycles and hot men." She loved tattoos and had several.

She was searching for the right guy. She never found him.

"She was so full of love and the one thing she truly wanted in life was that one person to love her back," Charles said.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at 727 445-4181 or

[Last modified January 24, 2008, 21:21:53]

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