Friday, June 22, 2018
Public safety

Hernando County library closed after suspicious fire

RIDGE MANOR WEST — The East Hernando Branch Library will remain closed indefinitely to allow workers to clean up damage caused by a suspicious fire early Saturday.

County community coordinator Brenda Frazier said Monday that the building, at 6457 Windmere Road in Ridge Manor West, suffered mostly smoke and water damage to carpets and books and other items near the rear of the building. County staffers are still assessing the extent of the damage.

"We should have a more definitive idea by the end of the week as to when the branch will be reopened," Frazier said. Until then, library patrons can return books and other materials to other county branches.

Hernando County fire officials said they received a call from the security company that monitors the building at about 2 a.m. Saturday informing them that a smoke alarm had gone off. Firefighters arrived a few minutes later to find that several wicker chairs had been stacked against the door and were burning in a small screened-in reading room at the rear of the building.

Fire officials said that while fire damage to the building was minimal, most of the water damage was caused by an automatic sprinkler system that was activated when the blaze broke out.

Library Services manager Adam Brooks said that the county has a $25,000 deductible and that he anticipates the damage will exceed that amount.

Opened in 2006, the 8,500-square-foot East Hernando Branch Library cost $1.9 million and was part of a county effort to expand library service to residents in rapidly growing areas. Situated on about 7 acres, the building's remote location in Ridge Manor has made it a target for vandals and thieves. According to archived Hernando County Sheriff's Office reports, the building has been burglarized on at least two occasions.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the state fire marshal's office.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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