Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

6-year-old boy playing with lighter sets family's New Port Richey home on fire

NEW PORT RICHEY — It was his day off from kindergarten.

Six-year-old Jacob Peacock had been playing with his friends for about an hour Monday morning. They were doing kid stuff: riding bikes, building a blanket fort under the foosball table on the porch.

Then, on the sidewalk out front, Jacob found an old lighter.

The little boy with a straw-colored buzz cut snatched the lighter from the concrete and brought it to the porch of his home at 6207 Ohio Ave. to see whether it worked. He tried it on a cardboard box.

Katharine Wyatt, 27, Jacob's mother, was in the kitchen readying a mop bucket to clean the house when he burst through the door.

"Mom!" he shouted. "There's a fire out here! I need some water!"

But by the time Wyatt got outside, the porch was a room of flames. She corralled Jacob and her other children to a neighbor's front lawn. No one was hurt. The family sat in lawn chairs by the road in the shade of a tree while firefighters put out the blaze.

Jacob's father, Philip Peacock, was called from his community services job. Without a car, he rode home on his Mongoose mountain bike.

A fourth of the rental house — the porch, the garage and his daughters' room — was scorched. Firefighters had to tear out the ceiling in the kitchen to keep the fire from spreading. Afterward, the kitchen table sat under 6 inches of damp insulation. Wet soot streaked down the walls in the rental house. Plastic blinds sagged from the heat. With all the water, smoke and fire damage, the house was uninhabitable.

There was one sign of hope: A stuffed bunny that belongs to Peacock's daughter Autum, 11, was plucked from the wreckage. The bunny, named "Rabbit," was wet from a fire hose but otherwise okay. Autum cradled sopping wet Rabbit in her arms while she sat in the neighbor's yard.

Peacock stood in front of the house Monday afternoon, Red Cross papers in his hand, and watched as firefighters doused the home. The water, blasting out of the hose, slugged the eaves of the house, peeling back more siding. A muddy stream flowed down the lawn and pooled at the sidewalk at Peacock's feet. He looked on in disbelief.

The Red Cross has set up the family, including son Christian, 5, and daughter Rose, 3, with a room at the Ramada Inn for two nights. After that, he doesn't know.

One thing is for sure, at least for Jacob: "He's definitely going to be grounded," Peacock said.

"All jokes aside, though, he'll be lucky to have a house to be grounded in."

Jacob rode his white-tired bike into the yard where his mother, Peacock's fiancee, stood. His feet were caked with mud. A little black smudge was on the end of his nose. He wanted his shoes.

But his mother jabbed a finger toward the neighbor's lawn, where his siblings sat. He hung his head and slunk over to them.

Peacock handed his tie to his fiancee. He picked up his Mongoose mountain bike — a handlebar in one hand, a can of Pepsi in the other — and said he was going to check in at the motel.

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.

Comments

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report.Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drowning ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

PALM HARBOR — The former president of a local youth football league is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the group and using it in part to buy a mobile home.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies on Tuesday arrested L...
Published: 01/19/18
Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

FORT LAUDERDALE — Rapper Kodak Black has been ordered held without bail in Florida on seven felony charges that include child neglect and drug possession.The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested the 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dieuson Octave,...
Published: 01/19/18
DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-through for Taco Bell

DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-through for Taco Bell

SPRING HILL — A 38-year-old Tampa man was arrested Wednesday on a charge of driving under the influence involving drugs or alcohol after deputies said he mistook a Bank of America drive-through for a Taco Bell.The branch manager of the Mariner Boulev...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

ST. PETERSBURG — One after another, speakers stepped to the lectern at City Hall on Thursday and described the same image: police cruisers on every corner in Midtown, uniformed officers lined up across the roadway, souring what should have been a joy...
Published: 01/18/18
Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

PORT RICHEY — Loretta Santini was one of a small group of customers boarding a Tropical Breeze Casino shuttle Thursday afternoon as the company sailed for the first day since another of its shuttle boats burned to the water Sunday, killing one woman....
Published: 01/18/18
Police: ‘Man-bun bandit’ seen stealing packages from Clearwater home

Police: ‘Man-bun bandit’ seen stealing packages from Clearwater home

Clearwater Police are searching for a "man-bun bandit" who is seen stealing packages from a residence.Police on Thursday tweeted this video of the suspect, who is seen attempting to balance multiple packages while gathering them at a home on Majestic...
Published: 01/18/18