Monday, December 18, 2017
Public safety

Home fire kills two in Town 'N Country

TAMPA — Two people died when a fire tore through a home in a Town 'N Country neighborhood Monday afternoon.

Flames were shooting through the roof of the home at 4627 Burkett Circle when firefighters arrived shortly before 4 p.m. Monday.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials did not release the names of those found inside late Monday, other than to say they were adults. Hillsborough County property records indicate the home is owned by Virginia Jones and Michelle Hayes, whom neighbors described as mother and daughter.

Officials also said they do not believe the fire is suspicious, but they were still investigating the cause.

Clint Gasque was at home, getting ready to make dinner, when he noticed the nearby neighbor's house on fire.

He called 911, ran down the street and knocked out a front window of the house using a log from the yard. Gasque said black smoke was coming from the house, and there were explosions with popping sounds.

"The explosions were just horrendous," he said.

After he heard a third explosion, he retreated. He said he helped other neighbors, who were using their hoses to try to put out the flames, to safety. The fire was too intense to reach those inside, he said.

"I hate to know people were in there," Gasque said.

After getting control of the blaze in a little more than a half hour, firefighters entered the house and found the two people dead inside.

The fire destroyed the one-story, two-bedroom home and caused minor damage to adjacent buildings, melting siding.

Jessica Vila, who lives down the street, said that she noticed fire and heavy smoke coming from the house. She also heard the explosions, she said.

Wendy Williams, who lives next door to the house, said the fire developed quickly.

"By the time (firefighters) got here, the house was so engulfed they couldn't have got out," Williams said.

Jones has lived in the house for about 30 years, Williams said.

She said Jones is handicapped, ill and relied on oxygen tanks, so they didn't see her out often. She said Hayes was often outside in the neighborhood and was very personable.

"You couldn't have asked for nicer neighbors," Williams said.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Jimmy Geurts at [email protected] or (813) 226-3402. Follow @jimmygeurts.

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