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Woman burned trying to save pets

As fire destroys her house, she goes back in to try to rescue four cats.

By BRADY DENNIS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


DADE CITY -- A Friday night fire severely burned a 46-year-old Dade City woman and destroyed her house at 36429 Shady Lane.

Investigators said the fire started in a back bedroom of the house just before 10 p.m. Linda Patterson and her son, Ashley, 20, fled from the home.

While Ashley went next door to call 911, Linda went back inside the house to try to rescue the family pets, firefighters said.

Ashley returned from the neighbor's house to find his mother on the hallway floor of the house. He rescued her and brought her outside before emergency crews arrived.

Linda Patterson was flown to the burn unit at Tampa General Hospital with second- and third-degree burns over about 40 percent of her body. She remained in stable condition Monday and was expected to have a long recovery, officials said.

Firefighters recovered the remains of four cats from the house.

"We desperately try to spread the message that once you exit a burning building, to stay out," said Dade City Fire Rescue Capt. Joey Wubbena. "I know there are a lot of emotions involved, but the best message is just to stay outside."

Dade City Fire Rescue and the state Fire Marshal's Office concluded their investigations Monday.

They ruled the fire as accidental, saying it appeared to have started from a burning cigarette in the bedroom.

Damage from the fire was expected to exceed $20,000.

Wubbena said much of the interior of the house was rendered unsalvageable.

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