HOLIDAY — White smoke sliced through Monday's clear skies, leaving behind the charred remains of an unfinished home.
At 3922 Star Island Drive in Holiday, all that was left were remnants of a family's life: a scorched lawn mower and broken pieces of burned wood.
Neighbors crowded around Brad and Tina Hartman, both 42, doling out hugs and bottled water in the afternoon heat.
The loss was especially bitter for the family because Brad Hartman was almost done adding a second story to the home, which housed a bedroom and bathroom.
The family bought the Aloha Gardens home in 2002 for $110,000, according to property records. Brad Hartman, a construction worker, began renovations about two years ago. Meanwhile, the family — including wife Tina and their two children, Andrew and Jade Adams — set up living quarters in the garage.
On Monday, Brad and Tina Hartman stood on a neighbor's lawn near their home. He held her as she wept into his chest.
"Everything, it's all gone," she said, crying.
Pasco County Fire Rescue responded to the call at 2:25 p.m. No one was home when the fire started.
The kids were at school, and Tina Hartman was at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, working as a patient technician.
"My son called me, and he said some kid called saying there's fire trucks at our house," Tina Hartman said. "I automatically came from work."
Meanwhile, Brad Hartman was at the family's veterinarian in Land O'Lakes with dogs Bambi and Cookie and cat Felix.
Tina Hartman thought her husband might have already brought the animals home from the vet and returned to his construction company, so she called him at work.
"Then I told one of my friends to call the vet to tell him the house is on fire," she said.
Fire investigators were still gathering details about the fire Monday.
"We don't know where it started," said Mike Ciccarello, Pasco County assistant fire chief. "The bulk of the fire was upstairs. The fire could've started downstairs and gone up."
While the Hartman family pets were out of harm's way when the blaze started, the family couldn't find an unnamed neighborhood cat they had been taking care of. They hoped it had simply wandered off.
As the street was filled with fire trucks and bystanders, Brad Hartman contemplated the work he'd done on the house.
"Every nail, every screw," he said, pausing. "I just feel sick."
Camille C. Spencer can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.