Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fire forces evacuation of Palm Harbor apartment complex

PALM HARBOR — They smelled smoke. They heard a fire alarm. But some residents at the Landings at Boot Ranch didn't budge until neighbors told them to get out.

More than 30 people were evacuated Thursday from the complex after a fire crept inside an exterior wall, pushing smoke into several apartments, said Bob Markford, EMS and safety chief for Palm Harbor Fire Rescue.

Smoke filled several apartments. But no one was injured and none of the units sustained direct fire damage, Markford said.

At 12:41 p.m., a tenant in one of the ground-floor units smelled smoke and called for help. About nine crews from Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor and East Lake arrived at the Katherine Boulevard apartment complex, after initial crews called for backup.

At first, firefighters saw only puffs of smoke, but more crews were called to the Landings in case fire spread to adjoining units, Markford said.

"In something like this, you're better off getting a little bit ahead of it because you can always send them home," Markford said.

One of the Palm Harbor crews found the source of the fire using a thermal imager. The fire apparently began inside an exterior wall near unit No. 8110, which first alerted authorities. Flames climbed inside the wall over to the second-floor balcony.

Crews took 45 minutes to extinguish the fire because they wanted to make sure it was completely out, Markford.

"My mom smelled smoke for about an hour," said Aaron Bassi, 15, who lives in a second-floor apartment with his mother, brother and sister.

They stayed put for several minutes after the alarm went off because they thought it was a drill, he said. The complex had a fire drill the day before.

Isabelle Raggins, 61, who lives with her cousin and granddaughter, searched her apartment for fire after a neighbor knocked on her door and said tenants smelled smoke. But Raggins and her family didn't evacuate until someone else knocked at the door and told them to get out.

A couple of hours after the call, a few firefighters were still on the scene, working to get electricity turned back on and trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4167. Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155.

Fire forces evacuation of Palm Harbor apartment complex 11/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 8:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick and Tom podcast: Where does Winston rank among top QBs?


    Where does Bucs QB Jameis Winston rank among current NFL QBs this year? The result might shock you. Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down a new poll by Sports Illustrated in their latest podcast.

    Where does Jameis Winston rank among the NFL's top quarterbacks?
  2. Early morning fire breaks out at Clearwater Beach motel


    Clearwater Fire and Rescue is at the scene of an early morning fire that broke out at a motel on Clearwater Beach.

  3. Florida education news: Free speech, Schools of Hope, student voices and more


    FREE SPEECH: The University of Florida reluctantly hosts white nationalist activist Richard Spencer for a rally officials are encouraging students to ignore. Campus president Kent Fuchs, who tried to prevent the activity from taking place, Troopers prepare for Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for Alachua County ahead of the event.

  4. How old is too old to go trick-or-treating on Halloween?

    Human Interest

    Brandi Eatman guesses the boy was at least 15 years old.

     Costume accessories at House of Make Believe at 1055 N Hercules Ave. in Clearwater. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  5. Report: West Pasco channel dredges could cost up to $13.5 million

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The cost of dredging a dozen coastal canals serving seven west Pasco communities could reach nearly $13.5 million, according to a consultant's report.

    WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
 A consultant recommends that Pasco County consider a dozen canal dredging projects in west Pasco's coastal communities at a cost that could reach nearly $13.5 million. [WILL VRAGOVIC, Times 2011]