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    Two escape injury as fire destroys home

    A fire official says the early morning blaze appeared to start in an attic.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2000

    CLEARWATER -- An early morning blaze destroyed a Campus Drive home Thursday, causing about $200,000 in damage, according to Clearwater Fire Department officials.

    No one was injured in the fire; the two people staying there were able to escape. Firefighters pulled a cat from the burning home and provided the animal oxygen. The cat was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic for care, said Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Flowers.

    Flowers said the fire appeared to ignite in the attic above the garage. Investigators believe the blaze started in a heating unit, said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor.

    Neighbors said a woman living at the home, 2109 Campus Drive, had recently moved in. The house recently was painted and the kitchen remodeled.

    Fire and police officials said they did not know the name of the occupant or whether the occupant owned the home. Property records list the homeowner as Lisa Hendry, who could not be reached for comment.

    Neighbor Vicki Posmak said she was awakened by a loud knocking on her door Thursday morning. She opened the door to find the woman who lived at the home and her friend, and Posmak invited them inside. She spotted flames rising from the house and called 911.

    "It's just a real tragedy," Posmak said. "She was able to smell the smoke and get out of there.

    "We're just real lucky no one got hurt," she added.

    Fire officials said the occupant of the home was staying with relatives Thursday. On Thursday evening, a Christmas tree lay in the front of the woman's yard; yellow police tape surrounded the perimeter.

    Flowers said firefighters also plucked some wrapped Christmas gifts and other valuables from the home.

    The first 911 call came in at 2:13 a.m. and fire crews were on the scene five minutes later.

    "It was through the roof," Flowers said of the flames. "It was heavy smoke and fire showing. They had multiple calls on it from neighbors."

    Flowers said flames spread through the attic and roof, then dropped to the main floor. Crews prevented flames from spreading to the bedroom side of the home, although the fire destroyed about half of the house, Flowers said.

    Firefighters called the blaze under control at 3:33 a.m. About 18 firefighters equipped with three engines and three other vehicles fought the blaze, Flowers said.

    A hose coupling scraped across a firefighter's wrist, causing a possible strain or sprain, Flowers said. The firefighter later went to a doctor for X-rays, he said.

    - Staff writer Leon M. Tucker contributed to this report.

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