Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Official: Fire at Clearwater senior facility was arson

CLEARWATER — An early morning fire that temporarily displaced more than 40 people at a senior living facility was the act of an arsonist, an official said Wednesday.

Rescuers arrived at Creekside Manor II, 1335 Pierce St., just before 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and found smoke and flames coming from the back of the four-story building, Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said.

They also found a woman in a wheelchair trapped inside a unit next to the lobby, where Watts said the fire originated.

Firefighters carried the 61-year-old woman out through a window. She and three other residents were taken to Morton Plant Hospital with injuries not thought to be life-threatening, said Richard Riley, a Clearwater Fire Rescue spokesman.

Thirty-seven more residents spent the rest of the night at a nearby building. Those who lived on the second, third and fourth floors began returning to their rooms after dawn.

Damage was mostly contained to a first-floor lobby area.

Alternative arrangements were being made for residents who lived in the first floor's four units. They will likely move to Creekside Manor I, a sister property at 1318 Franklin St. owned by Volunteers of America, spokeswoman Wendy Whitescarver said.

Volunteers of America is a nonprofit organization that, among other things, provides Florida housing for seniors who want to live independently. In addition to Creekside Manor I, it runs Creekside Manor II, a retirement home with 36 apartments for low-income people age 62 and older.

In case of fire, there are two access exits, one on the left side of the building and one on the right. There also are front and back doors. There are no nurses on staff.

Watts said fire investigators from the Clearwater Police Department, Clearwater Fire & Rescue and the state Fire Marshal's Office conducted an investigation and determined the fire was arson because "several different points of origin were identified."

Coy Campbell, 77, who has lived in the facility for about two years, said he was scared when he heard knocks on his door Wednesday morning.

"They came knocking on my door and told me to get out," he said.

Areli Ceronibarra said she was sleeping at her apartment behind the facility when the fire started. Her mother awoke from the commotion. "I was scared," she said on her way to a bus stop.

Letha Gibbs, 65, a Creekside Manor I resident, said she has a friend who lives on the fourth floor of the facility. This is the second fire in seven months that her friend has had to deal with, she said.

No one was hurt in the other fire, Whitescarver said. The cause of that fire was never determined.

Times staff writer Katie Sanders contributed to this report.

Official: Fire at Clearwater senior facility was arson 01/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour


    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

  2. Democrat Philip Levine won't attack Trump. Can he be Florida governor?


    If he decides to run, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine will be the most enigmatic and unpredictable candidate for Florida governor in 2018.

    Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is introduced before speaking at a Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting at the Ferguson Law Center in Tampa on May 19. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)
  3. What you need to know for Friday, Aug. 18


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read 'Hellfire from Above,' inside the Tampa Electric Co. power plant accident that left five people dead. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Tampa is training ground for Team USA inline skating

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The United States once dominated the sport known as international outdoor inline speed skating.

    Cotton Yarborough is one of five people from the Tampa Bay area on the national inline speed skating team. The team is competing in the world championships Aug. 27 in China. [Courtesy of Frank Holland]
  5. Grocery and hotel deals in reach for Tampa Encore project

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — After failing to land both Publix and Walmart, the Tampa Housing Authority says it is close to a deal to bring another well-known grocer to its Encore project.

    The Tampa Housing Authority's Encore project has housing like The Reed, pictured, but no retail. It is in talks to bring a grocer and two hotels to the site on the west side of Nebraska Avenue close to downtown Tampa.