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. Paul Rodgers replacing ZZ Top on Ribfest 2017 lineup


    In looking to replace the ailing ZZ Top, Ribfest found some good company in Bad Company.

    Paul Rodgers
  2. Some teachers allege 'hostile and racially charged' workplace at Pinellas Park Middle


    PINELLAS PARK — Two black teachers at Pinellas Park Middle have requested transfers out of the school, alleging the work environment there has become "hostile and racially charged."

    Pinellas Park Middle School at 6940 70th Ave N, where some black teachers have alleged they were treated with hostility by colleagues after starting a tutoring program for black students. Just 22 percent of black students were proficient in English language arts in last spring's state tests. Two black teachers have asked to be transfered, according to a letter from two local chapters of the NAACP. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Editorial: The unknown price tags in the mayor's race


    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has been busy promoting all sorts initiatives in the months leading up to the Nov. 7 election, doubling down on his progressive agenda without spending much money or generating much controversy. But make no mistake, the cost will come due after the election. Without a change in …

    The mayor is determined to get artist Janet Echelman to create a sculpture for the new Pier. But the cost would be much higher than what is allocated. Above is Echelman’s As If It Were Already Here in Boston.
  4. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  5. Judge won't cut prison term of man who pleads obesity


    TAMPA — A claim of obesity won't shave time off a Tampa man's prison sentence.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.