Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Firefighters extinguish fire at Westfield Countryside Mall

CLEARWATER — Firefighters battled a blaze at Westfield Countryside mall early Wednesday after a driver crashed into the building in a suicide attempt, authorities said.

The fire was reported about 2 a.m. after a white Honda Accord slammed into the east side of the building at the Dillard's store in the mall on U.S. 19.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the scene and found the car inside the building. By 4 a.m. Wednesday, the fire was extinguished. Later in the morning, the rest of the mall opened.

The first level of Dillard's remained closed on Wednesday but the second level was open for business. The lower level could possibly reopen today, said Westfield Countryside spokeswoman Lauren Clark.

The car smashed into a back room and did not directly impact the showroom floor, she said. But the fire set off the sprinkler system in a portion of the first floor containing handbags and men's and children's clothing. The amount of merchandise lost and its value was not determined Wednesday.

Officials said the store sustained fire, smoke and water damage. Within four hours, firefighters were able to remove the smoke inside the building with a ventilation truck.

The driver, a 64-year-old man, was the Honda's only occupant. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and later transferred to Tampa General Hospital with what appeared to be serious but not life-threatening injuries that included burns, officials said.

The man told investigators the crash was a suicide attempt. He sped across the parking lot, jumped over a median and a curb and crashed into the building and into a storage room, fire rescue said.

He also admitted to leaving his home at 29250 U.S. 19 unlocked with a suicide note and next-of-kin information inside. Authorities drove to his home and confirmed that, fire rescue said.

On Wednesday, a 10-foot hole remained in the side of the building after the Honda was towed away. Yellow crime-scene tape cordoned off the area as employees of a disaster recovery business cleaned up the site. The Honda had torn out a chunk of curb and ripped up bushes and landscaping before it punched a hole in the eastern wall of Dillard's, which juts out from the northern side of the mall.

No other injuries were reported. No one was in the store during the crash. The investigation was continuing.

Times staff writers Mike Brassfield and Susan Thurston contributed to this report.

Firefighters extinguish fire at Westfield Countryside Mall 05/15/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

    Blogs

    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.