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Couple critically injured in Odessa house fire

Authorities investigate the fire scene. Investigators said some kind of domestic dispute may have preceded the blaze.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Authorities investigate the fire scene. Investigators said some kind of domestic dispute may have preceded the blaze.

ODESSA — The woman was burned so badly the bones in her hand were exposed. The man's face was blackened: His eyelashes gone, his eyes frightfully damaged.

"It's tragic," said Ana Valdez, who lives across the street from the couple's home at 13748 Vanderbilt Road, which caught on fire about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The man and woman, whose identities were not released Wednesday afternoon, were flown to Tampa General Hospital with critical injuries.

Two girls, ages 13 and 8, were inside the home at the time of the fire. They were not injured, said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco Sheriff's Office. Neighbors told Bay News 9 the girls are the couple's daughters. The family had a puppy, which also escaped the fire uninjured.

Doll said the man and woman are from Albania.

Investigators have not said what caused the fire — though they said a domestic dispute might have preceded it, according to Bay News 9.

"It's still under investigation," Doll said. He said the two fire victims are sedated. Investigators have interviewed the daughters.

Valdez, the neighbor, told Bay News 9 she heard the girls screaming and rushed outside. Smoke billowed from the house. The youngest girl stood on the street holding her dog.

"I don't think it was intentional," Valdez said of the fire. "But who knows?"

It took firefighters 30 minutes to put out the blaze.

Constance Williams is another neighbor who ran outside to try to help the family. She told Bay News 9 she brought ice for the woman's hand; her flesh peeling off, bone exposed. The man's chest was red and raw, his corneas bloody.

"The kids were just frightened," Williams said.

The family has lived in the rented house for three years. The children were put in temporary foster care as relatives were being sought, Doll said.

"I don't even want to speculate" on the cause of the fire, Williams said. "They are very nice neighbors."

Couple critically injured in Odessa house fire 03/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 8:17pm]
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