HOLIDAY — An overheated dryer started a large fire that engulfed a Holiday Lake Estates home and nearly killed two teenagers inside.
The flames destroyed much of the home at 1132 Maybury Drive early Sunday and threatened nearby houses.
Two teens — a boy and a girl — were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, Pasco Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello said. The girl has been released; the boy remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon.
Ciccarello would not release the names of the teens, but neighbor Robert Ruggiero said the girl was the daughter of the owner of the home, Sheryl Warren, and the boy was a friend. Warren was not there when the fire started.
A dryer was running inside the garage, and a clogged lint screen caused the machine to overheat, Ciccarello said.
There were no working smoke detectors inside the house.
Ruggiero said he spotted flames about 2:30 a.m. and called 911. Firefighters arrived at 2:39 a.m.
Two crews went into the home through the front door, Ciccarello said. They found the girl on the floor near the kitchen and carried her outside.
Then the firefighters re-entered the burning house. Using an infrared camera, they spotted the boy in a hallway near a bedroom, and carried him outside.
The crews went back in several times to search for a couple of children who also lived there before determining the children were not at home. In the meantime, they rescued a cat, who was revived with oxygen and given to a neighbor.
Both Ciccarello and Ruggiero lauded the work of fire rescue teams. In total, 23 personnel were sent to the home.
"It was unbelievable how fast they got there," Ruggiero said.
But Fire Rescue officials say there's also a lesson here: If the house had working smoke detectors, the teens would have been able to escape uninjured.
Nomaan Merchant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6244.