RIVERVIEW — While the owners were on vacation Tuesday, a fire destroyed a 3,000-square-foot home in an east Hillsborough County neighborhood without hydrants.
The home at 11308 Donneymoor Drive was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley.
The owners, Judi and John Peterson, were in Missouri, and a woman was caring for their two dogs and two cats. She had last checked on the animals Monday night. It was unclear whether they escaped or perished in the fire, which began Tuesday about 7 a.m., Yeakley said.
With flames bursting through the roof, which was in danger of collapsing, firefighters left the house after a quick check to ensure that no people were trapped inside, Yeakley said.
Firefighters continued to battle the flames from the outside — a strategy that probably prevented the fire from spreading to the surrounding wooded area, Yeakley said. The lack of fire hydrants in the community proved a problem for first responders, he added.
Fire crews in three tanker trucks hauled water 3,500 gallons at a time from more than a mile away, Yeakley said. Some homeowners in the area rely on indoor fire sprinklers, but the Peterson home did not have such a system, Yeakley said.
Jay Jackson, 58, who lives across the street, said he first noticed the fire at 8 a.m.
"I looked at my son, and he said, 'This is bad. That house is gone,' " he said.
About 16 units and 60 firefighters responded, and they were still extinguishing hot spots late into the morning.
"It's a scary thought — living here, and we have no hydrants in the neighborhood," Jackson said. He has lived in the Shadow Run neighborhood for more than 20 years and said he never saw a fire destroy a home before.
The house, which had a market value of more than $287,000, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office, was considered a total loss.
The Petersons were notified in Missouri, Yeakley said, and they were returning home. They could not be reached for comment.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Marissa Lang can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3386.