HUDSON — Doris Fisher smelled smoke and yelled for her husband to get up. It was 2 a.m. Wednesday and their house on Hicks Road was on fire. Charles Fisher tried to fight the flames with a garden hose.
"As soon as I hit it with the garden hose, it exploded in steam," said Charles, 64.
Doris, 75, tried to rescue her chihuahuas from the back den, where they lived in cages. But the fire was too much.
Pasco Fire Marshal Lawrence Whitten said the bodies of six dogs were found.
Charles Fisher's son, Stacey Fisher, said his stepmother used to breed chihuahuas and believed there might have been as many as nine dogs in the house.
"There was no way to get them out," Doris said. "We tried."
Charles and Doris escaped the burning home and were taken to a local hospital with smoke inhalation.
They were released a few hours later and came back to the home, which was a shell — some rafters, some walls, but mostly burned to the ground. Except for a photo album and a coin collection, little was salvageable. No clothes. No toothbrush. Nothing.
Jim Simons with the Tampa Bay chapter of the American Red Cross said his agency gave the Fishers some money for food and clothing and will put them up in a hotel for three nights.
"It's going to be a long recovery," Simons said.
Whitten said he believes the fire started because a pot was left unattended on the stove. He said Charles Fisher tried to fight the fire on his own before calling 911. Whitten urged people to always call 911 at the first sign of a fire.
He said the Fishers were lucky they survived.
"The important thing is they got out," Whitten said. "The building can be replaced, but people can't."
Stacey Fisher, 40, said his father and stepmother have lived in the home for 13 years and are involved in the community, participating in things like a food bank with their church and volunteering with the Aripeka Elks Lodge and the American Cancer Society. He said Doris is a breast cancer survivor. He said his stepmother is the only one who could ever control their chihuahuas, which would always bite his ankles when he came to feed them.
"She was like the Pied Piper with them," Stacey Fisher said.
Information from Bay News 9 is included in this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.