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    By Times staff writers

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 4, 2001


    Manatee County fire adds to acres burning

    A brush fire possibly sparked by lightning burned 1,200 to 1,500 acres in eastern Manatee County on Sunday, adding to the growing number of acres scorched by wildfires in Florida.

    The Manatee County wildfire, which was not threatening homes, started about 4 p.m. in a remote conservation area between Bill Parrish Road and State Road 64, said David Quaderer, the county's fire coordinator. Firefighters from Manatee and Hardee counties and the Division of Forestry used trails and clearings in the woods to get to the blaze.

    In rain-parched Lafayette and Dixie counties in North Florida, the Mallory Swamp fire was 70 percent contained after burning about 61,000 acres, fire officials said.

    In addition to the blaze in Manatee County, other wildfires sparked by lightning over the weekend burned another 1,200 acres in the Everglades and other parts of the state.

    Girl almost drowns in backyard pool

    CLEARWATER -- A 2-year-old girl nearly drowned Sunday after falling into a backyard pool at 1832 Barbara Lane. The child, who fell into the pool at 6:20 p.m. was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center as a precaution, according to Clearwater police. Rescue workers arrived at the home five minutes after the near drowning was reported. The child's name wasn't released.

    Man jumps off bridge, dies in 7 feet of water

    TAMPA -- A Pinellas County man jumped from a W Hillsborough Avenue bridge into Dick Creek early Sunday and drowned, minutes after he told patrons at a nearby bar he was leaving to commit suicide.

    Authorities said Robert Harrison Stokoe, 34, of 1503 Amanda Lane in Countryside, was drinking at the Planet 9-Ball Lounge just before 3 a.m. Sunday. The bar is in a strip mall called the Silvermill Plaza just yards west of Dick Creek, which feeds into Tampa Bay nearby.

    Patrons said Stokoe was threatening to commit suicide inside the bar. When he left at 3 a.m., he walked directly to the bridge on Hillsborough Avenue and jumped as several witnesses watched.

    An hour later, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office dive team found Stokoe's body in seven feet of water. Officials said that the investigation into Stokoe's death is continuing.

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