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7 families evacuated after apartment fire

No one is reported injured in a fire that started in an electrical panel at Seven Springs Apartment Homes.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 16, 2000


ELFERS -- Kimberley and Rejaul Abbas were sorting a box of Christmas decorations Wednesday morning when they heard what sounded like an explosion coming from their toddler's bedroom.

Next, they felt the wall and the floor jiggle. Then they saw the smoke.

"Grab the baby! Grab the baby!" Kimberley Abbas shouted to her husband, who scooped up 18-month-old Ayana.

The Abbases were one of seven families evacuated from the Seven Springs Apartment Homes on State Road 54 just east of Rowan Road because of a malfunction in an electrical panel.

Pasco Fire-Rescue Chief Gary Policastri said an electrician was doing maintenance on the panel on Wednesday morning, and Florida Power had unplugged its meters from the panel.

When the maintenance was finished, Florida Power workers plugged the meters back into the box and that's when the equipment blew, causing fire inside the wall shortly after 10 a.m.

The panel was on the outside wall of the Abbas family's apartment. After firefighters delicately moved pictures off the walls in the apartment, they ripped a hole in the wall which sent smoke throughout the building. Two dozen firefighters spent nearly an hour extinguishing the fire and then flushing smoke from the building.

None of the seven evacuated families were hurt, Policastri said. They will all be housed in other, vacant apartments in the complex, he said.

The Abbas family has lived in the building for two years. They don't have insurance, and on Wednesday morning, were unsure whether their possessions were damaged.

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