Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough deputy, family need help after house fire

Ray Rembert, a 12-year veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, talks on his phone as he looks through the scorched remains of his home after a fire that broke out Thursday night. The family was not at home when the fire started.


Ray Rembert, a 12-year veteran of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, talks on his phone as he looks through the scorched remains of his home after a fire that broke out Thursday night. The family was not at home when the fire started.

KEYSTONE — At Ben Hill Middle School, Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Ray Rembert is that go-to person, the man students seek out when they need to confide in someone.

"He's an integral part of building our positive school environment," said Linda Garcia, a student intervention specialist at the Carrollwood school. "He's a wonderful co-worker, a joyful, kind person."

On Friday, employees and friends at Ben Hill, where Rembert is a school resource officer, scrambled to help their colleague, a father of four who lost his Keystone home and virtually everything in it in a fire Thursday night.

By morning, a Hillsborough Sheriff's deputy had offered Rembert, a 12-year veteran of the department, and his children — ages 11, 12, 13 and 15 — access to a fully furnished apartment until the family can figure out what to do, Sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said.

And the Rev. Barron Madison announced that the First Missionary Baptist Church of Keystone would collect "money, clothes, whatever for Ray and his family" at a meeting planned for 7 p.m. Monday at the church, 8202 Peterson Road.

Callaway said the Sheriff's Office was accepting donations at its northwest Hillsborough substation, 7202 Gunn Highway, and through a nonprofit organization that assists sheriff's employees during catastrophic events.

"They're in urgent need of clothing at this time," he said. "What would be most helpful would be gift certificates or checks made out to the foundation."

But as charitable efforts were under way, Hillsborough Fire Rescue investigators weren't any closer to figuring out the cause of the blaze. Rembert and his family weren't home when the fire broke out at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

"The fire was very extensive," spokesman Ray Yeakley said. "It's going to take a while to uncover every possibility."

The home, which is owned by the county on land at Peterson Road Park, was built by Charlie Walker, who petitioned Hillsborough Schools to build the Citrus Park Colored School in 1924 and is the namesake of Walker Middle in Odessa.

In exchange for securing the park, locking the gates and turning off the lights, the county provided Rembert the house and paid for his electricity. Rembert was responsible for other bills.

Rodney Thrash can be reached

at or

(813) 269-5303.

>>Fast facts

How to help

Make checks payable to the Lynn Sowers Foundation, P.O. Box 3371, Tampa 33601 or drop off clothes and other donations to the Hillsborough Sheriff's District 3 substation, 7202 Gunn Highway. Three of the children are boys; the 12-year-old is a girl.

Hillsborough deputy, family need help after house fire 04/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2008 2:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB


    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  2. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young


    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  5. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on


    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times