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House burns as dinner cooks

A man says he went into the bedroom to rest while his fish fried. Now his girlfriend's mobile home is ruined and deputies are suspicious.

By CARRIE JOHNSON and ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001


A man says he went into the bedroom to rest while his fish fried. Now his girlfriend's mobile home is ruined and deputies are suspicious.

HOMOSASSA -- James Potts was making himself a late dinner Thursday night, frying redfish in the kitchen of his girlfriend's mobile home.

He said he had been drinking and that he went into the bedroom to rest while the fish cooked.

"It was kind of frozen," said Potts, 39.

Moments later, he said, the kitchen was ablaze.

"She's going to flip," he said of his girlfriend, 45-year-old Carol Sowinski. "What do I tell her?"

The fire quickly consumed the mobile home at 7210 W Brady Lane. Every part of the home was damaged, said Gail Tierney, a spokeswoman for the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

Four volunteer fire departments were called to help extinguish the blaze, which began about 11:50 p.m.

Tierney said deputies believe the origin of the fire may be suspicious, and the state Fire Marshal's Office has been contacted to investigate. She said she could not elaborate. "It was just noted in the report that there may be some suspicion," Tierney said.

Neighbors left their houses Thursday night to watch the flames climb into the night sky.

"I saw orange, just straight orange all the way up to the power line," said Alaina Robling, 17, who lives across the street.

Plumes of gray-black smoke were still visible more than an hour after the fire had been extinguished. Firefighters were there past 1 a.m. Friday.

Stephanie Wright, another neighbor, hastily sprayed down her lawn and a nearby tree with a garden hose.

"I thought it was going to jump," she said about the fire.

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