Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Man killed in Odessa mobile home fire was retired New York officer

A man who died in a fire at an Odessa mobile home park Monday morning has been identified as James Mongan, 79. His wife Paulet,  64, escaped with serious injuries. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]

A man who died in a fire at an Odessa mobile home park Monday morning has been identified as James Mongan, 79. His wife Paulet, 64, escaped with serious injuries. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]

ODESSA — After years investigating crimes as a New York City police detective and spending some of his retirement in Long Island, James Mongan decided with his wife to make a new life in Florida.

Mongan and his wife, Paulet, picked the Silver Dollar Golf and Trap Club community, a sprawling neighborhood of tidy mobile homes in Hillsborough County. He loved to shoot trap at the neighborhood range, a short golf cart ride from the couple's doublewide home on Golf Vista Court.

The Mongans were home early Monday when a fire broke out, authorities said. Paulet was able to escape but Mongan, 79, died inside. The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office released their names Wednesday.

Paulet, a 64-year-old retired registered nurse, suffered smoke inhalation and is recovering, said the couple's son, James Mongan Jr.

"I can't imagine how she must feel," he said. "She says she's okay, but I don't know. It's a horrible circumstance to have been through."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews arrived at the couple's home about 5:40 a.m. and found it engulfed in flames. Paulet Mongan, 64, had fled to a neighbor's house and was rushed to the hospital.

Neighbors told the Times that they heard Paulet screaming for help because her husband was still inside the home. Fire crews put out the fire and found his body inside.

Investigators said Wednesday the fire appears to have been started by candles left burning after the couple went to sleep. The final cause of the fire, however, remains under investigation.

The Mongans had smoke alarms in their home but they never sounded. That is also being investigated.

Born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants, James Mongan grew up poor, his son said. He started as a patrolman for the New York City Police Department and worked his way up to detective.

After he retired, he and Paulet moved to Long Island and then to Florida about 18 years ago. He has sisters here and a friend of his knew about the Silver Dollar community, his son said.

He was an avid reader, attended a nearby Catholic church regularly and enjoyed spending time with his fellow Knights of Columbus. He used a walker and sometimes a motorized wheelchair, his son said.

He leaves behind three children.

"He was a devoted father," James Jr. said.

Times staff writer Anastasia Dawson contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

Man killed in Odessa mobile home fire was retired New York officer 11/30/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 2:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]