LITHIA — A house belonging to a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy and his family caught fire Friday afternoon, killing the family's two dogs and cat, authorities said.
By the time Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews responded to the home in the 19000 block of Boyette Road about 12:45 p.m., firefighters said a column of smoke could already be seen from a distance away.
The deputy was not identified. Neighbors told crews the house was unoccupied except for the family's pets. Crews were able to rescue the family's bunny.
Firefighters entered the house and tore through the ceiling to extinguish the flames, which were in the attic. One firefighter was injured and taken to a hospital. It's unknown what started the fire, though officials noted the house was without power and Tampa Electric crews were working nearby.
Sheriff David Gee and Col. Chad Chronister, who will become interim sheriff upon Gee's retirement this month, visited the deputy's home in a show of support. Deputies were helping salvage their colleague's personal items.