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Largo couple loses nearly everything in house fire

LARGO — Sylvia Sprague kept her hands busy Wednesday afternoon.

She milled about, checking belongings pulled from a fire that engulfed her home at 913 N Palm Drive SW just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. She lit a cigarette, screwed the cap on and off of a water bottle, put her hands on her hips.

Sprague, 60, paused only for a moment to survey the charred remains of her home. As she stood on the lawn, tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped them away with seared fingertips and took an unsteady breath.

"I feel so terrible," she said. "So tired, so — lost. Everything's gone."

Her husband, Claude Sprague, 64, lingered nearby. Their 4-year-old Chi-poo dog, Precious, perished in the blaze.

"I kept calling her name," Sylvia Sprague said. "All the way out, I kept calling for her."

Sprague escaped through the front door after she awoke to the sound of a fire alarm Wednesday morning. Yellowish smoke filled the house, she said. It burned her eyes, her lungs.

"I didn't know what was going on," she said. "I just ran out. I was still in my pajamas."

Claude Sprague wasn't there when the fire ignited. He said he had gone shopping when Largo police called to say Sylvia had been taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

"The main thing is we're alive," he said.

Largo Fire Rescue spokesman David Mixson said the home is a total loss. It was not immediately clear what sparked the blaze, he said, though the Spragues suspect it was electrical.

Claude Sprague has lived in that house for 26 years, he said.

Friends and family converged on the house Wednesday afternoon to help the couple remove whatever belongings were salvageable.

Among the items pulled unmarred from the scene: stacks of photo albums.

"At least these are okay," Sylvia Sprague said as she opened and closed the books.

The couple will be staying with family members in Clearwater for the time being. They're still in shock, they said.

"It's all gone," Claude Sprague said. "All of it."

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4155.

Largo couple loses nearly everything in house fire 06/13/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:56am]
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