Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Two young boys badly hurt in Spring Hill fire; eight animals unaccounted for

SPRING HILL — Jamie Smiley's phone rang before dawn Friday.

It was his sister. Her home was burning with most of the family inside. She said to come quickly.

Smiley raced less than a mile to find the double-wide mobile home on Old Shady Hills Road engulfed in flames. The front gate stood open from where his brother-in-law burst through it in his pickup truck to get the family out. Fire rescue crews were already there dousing the flames.

Smiley, 38, looked through an ambulance's back window and saw his mother being treated. He threw open the doors and jumped inside to be with her.

"I had to check on her, y'know," he said later in the morning.

Crews responded about 6:40 a.m. to the home near the Hernando County line. They arrived to find five adults, ranging in age from 35 to 80, and two young boys making their way out of the burning home, a fire rescue spokesman said. The family was sleeping when the fire began. The fire's cause is still being investigated.

The boys, ages 5 and 6, were severely injured and were taken by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital, a Pasco County spokesman said. Three other family members were first taken to local hospitals and then transferred to Tampa General. Another woman suffered minor burns but refused treatment. One other person in the home also did not go to the hospital.

None of the victims' conditions were known and their names were not released.

Nine pets were inside the home at the time. Two cats, two Pomeranians, two chihuahuas, one Lhasa apso and one husky were listed as unaccounted for Friday afternoon. A rat terrier was taken to St. Francis Veterinary Hospital to be treated for third-degree burns, according to Pasco County Animal Services.

In the 911 recording, an unidentified woman shouts to dispatchers that her mother can't walk, used oxygen tanks to breathe and could not get out of the house.

"Everything I own is in there," the woman says, "my dogs and all."

Later, the woman indicates everyone had made it out of the home and was standing in the yard. She seems to be looking back at the fire in the final seconds of the recording.

"There goes my home," she says.

The home is located behind a used car dealership that sells propane tanks. The fire was declared under control just before 8 a.m., but at 10 a.m., the skeleton of the home was still smoldering while firefighters continued to put water on the rubble. Other family members arrived to watch over the home that once held years of photos and memories.

Melissa Sloop, who is soon to be a daughter-in-law in the family, broke down as she listed everyone who was inside during the fire.

"They can stay with us," she said. "That's all I care about. And I just want them to get better."

 
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