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Tampa Bay briefs

By Times staff reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001

Boys playing with lighter start fire

Boys playing with lighter start fire

TAMPA -- Two small children were burned Tuesday morning after they started a fire inside their home by playing with a lighter, officials said.

Jonathan Hamilton, 5, and his brother, Jason, 3, were taken to Tampa General Hospital with first- and second-degree burns, said Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley.

Yeakley said the boys were playing with a lighter shortly after 9 a.m. inside a bedroom of their home at 10803 Palmetto St. in Riverview when the fire started.

Their mother, Rhonda Hamilton, was in the bathroom, Yeakley said. She reported the fire, and although firefighters arrived within minutes, the home was badly damaged.

Memorial honors retired sergeant

TAMPA -- A memorial will be held today for retired Hillsborough sheriff's Sgt. James Russell, a 27-year veteran who died last week of cancer. He was 57.

The memorial, scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Orient Road Jail facility, will honor the man whose career included service in the K-9 officer division and narcotics.

"He was renown for his expertise in narcotics and smuggling investigations," sheriff's spokesman Lt. Rod Reder said. "He was well known statewide."

Sgt. Russell, who was hired as a corrections deputy in 1973, was promoted to a patrol deputy in 1975. Within two years he began working in the K-9 unit, receiving several commendations from U.S. Customs and the Treasury Department for drug searches at airports and the Port of Tampa.

In 1978, Sgt. Russell transferred to narcotics. Sgt. Russell, a former Marine, also worked in the original street crimes unit, Reder said, and helped organize the first annual Christmas party for children in the neighborhoods near the University of South Florida. He retired in July last year.

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