Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man dies in fire at Port Richey apartment complex

PORT RICHEY — Michael Copeland shivered in the morning cold as firefighters swarmed outside his apartment. He had escaped flames with only the clothes on his back.

His neighbor was not so fortunate.

"They said he was dead,'' said Copeland, 19.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, Copeland smelled smoke and thought it was coming from his bathroom in the small unit at the Ridge Garden Apartments at 6715 Deeb St., just off Ridge Road. He opened the window.

"There was a huge wall of smoke," Copeland said. "It was covering the entire complex. You could hardly see anything."

He raced outside and called 911. "Everybody else was calling, too,'' he said.

Pasco Fire Rescue authorities said only that a man died in the fire and a resident of an adjoining unit was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation. No additional information was given.

Copeland and Torrey Delatejera, who lives in the apartment directly below the unit that burned, said the victim was a mentally disabled man they identified only as "Kevin.'' They said his apartment was full of clutter and that he was a heavy smoker.

Delatejera, 33, said he was asleep with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old son when firefighters arrived. "The loud noise woke me up,'' he said. "I thought Kevin was moving stuff around upstairs, or that maybe they were working on the pipes.''

He said the man upstairs regularly allowed his bathtub to overflow and water had ruined the ceiling in his apartment.

"I haven't had a chance to see the damage to our apartment,'' he said.

Copeland said he paid $450 a month for his apartment and had been there six months. He expects he lost most of his belongings.

"They kicked my door open and started spraying water," he said of the firefighters.

Man dies in fire at Port Richey apartment complex 11/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big


    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  2. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  3. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  4. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  5. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.