TAMPA — As smoke billowed around him, Nick Barbaresi slept. Until his dog, Marbles, woke him.
"She was jumping all over and started barking," Barbaresi said Sunday morning as he stood in the parking lot of the Chase Suite Hotel in Rocky Point, staring at a gaping hole where the roof over his suite used to be.
At first, the 29-year-old from Connecticut thought he had left the stove on. Then he realized the smoke was coming from an adjacent suite.
"I could hear the crackle of fire right behind my closet," Barbaresi said. That's when he grabbed his Pomeranian and computer and got out of the building.
Tampa Fire Rescue responded to the fire at 7:25 a.m. About 50 guests of the extended-stay hotel at 3075 Rocky Point Drive were evacuated, and no injuries were reported.
Crews were still investigating the cause of the fire Sunday afternoon.
Flames burned a hole through the roof and through some walls of a suite on the second floor of Building 14, said Lt. Tamera Kemp, a spokeswoman for Tampa Fire Rescue. Some flames also spread to Barbaresi's suite. Crews had the fire under control in about 35 minutes.
The hotel has 16 buildings with eight units in each. Fire and smoke damaged four units and water damaged two others.
Guests whose suites were no longer habitable were moved to unoccupied rooms. The Red Cross was called in to help a few of the guests who lost personal items or airline tickets.
The cost of damage is estimated at more than $1 million, Kemp said.
Brett Cayer, 49, awoke to the smell of smoke and a pounding at his door about 7:30 a.m. He figured he wasn't in immediate danger, so he took his time evacuating — then saw the flames a couple of buildings down and hurried up.
"It looked like one of the chimneys was on fire," he said.
Cayer, who is also from Connecticut, and Barbaresi had been staying in the apartment-style suites since October while they worked on a nearby construction project.
Barbaresi said that although this was the only day of the week he could have slept in, he was thankful for the early wake-up call from his dog.
Marbles, meanwhile, was resting in Barbaresi's new suite.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at (813) 226-3374 or email@example.com.