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Hillsborough apartment blaze causes serious damage to eight units

Yolanda Brookins carries a bassinet from her sister Katrina Thomas’ second-floor apartment at the Foxcroft Apartments in Tampa on Sunday after a fire caused extensive damage.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Yolanda Brookins carries a bassinet from her sister Katrina Thomas’ second-floor apartment at the Foxcroft Apartments in Tampa on Sunday after a fire caused extensive damage.

TAMPA — Residents of Foxcroft Apartments stood outside their homes Sunday afternoon, surrounded by boxes of clothes and trash cans filled with food as the smell of smoke lingered.

They packed their remaining belongings into cars, passing the boxes out of blackened, blown-out windows, trying to salvage what was left after a fire at the N Dale Mabry Highway complex caused major damage to eight apartments and smoke damage to four others.

No injuries were reported, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials said. They did not release a cause of the fire.

At least eight families were evacuated, and the heavily damaged apartments will need significant renovation, according to Jim Simons, a spokesman for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Latresha Tinsley, 27, smoked a cigarette and cried as she surveyed the damage.

She had lived in the apartment directly above the one where the fire started, she said. She had just put her 8-month-old daughter down for a nap and was about to take a shower when she heard firefighters pounding on the door.

As she ran out of the apartment, she said she heard windows breaking. Looking back, she couldn't see through the smoke.

She said she had no idea where she, along with her fiance and five family members who had lived with them, would stay.

"We're doing bad, shoot, then this happens," she said. "Everything was messed up."

Tinsley's stepson, 8-year-old Leonard Brookins Jr., was wearing a pair of her flip-flops, pink ones with rhinestone hearts. He hadn't had time to grab a pair of his own before getting out of the apartment, she said.

Fire rescue officials said the emergency call came in at 1:32 p.m. from the apartment complex at 8702 N Dale Mabry Highway, about halfway between Waters Avenue and Busch Boulevard. By 2:30, the fire was under control, Fire Rescue officials said. A portion of Dale Mabry, which had briefly closed, reopened at 2:40.

Affected residents were offered one-night vouchers to a hotel by the Red Cross, but many said they didn't know what they would do afterward.

"It all happened so fast," Tinsley said.

Katrina Thomas, 30, who lived with Tinsley, stood quietly amid boxes of their clothes.

"What's done is done," she said.

Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter contributed to this report. Hilary Lehman can be reached at hlehman@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2441.

Hillsborough apartment blaze causes serious damage to eight units 07/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, July 11, 2010 11:01pm]
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