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. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108