DUNEDIN — Normandy Woodward saw black smoke early Tuesday and ran outside. Her next-door neighbor's home was on fire, and the woman who lived there, her friend, was standing dazed just outside, engulfed in smoke.
"So, I started tearing down her fence," said Woodward, 65. "I kept thinking, I've got to get her out of there. I've got to get her out."
A suspicious fire in the single-story home on Sourwood Boulevard Tuesday morning sent the unidentified resident to the hospital and left a firefighter with minor injuries, a fire official said.
Emergency crews responded to 1965 Sourwood Blvd. around 8:19 a.m. and knocked down the blaze in about 20 minutes, Dunedin Deputy Fire Chief Trip Barrs said. Two rooms were "completely destroyed," he said.
The resident, whose family declined an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, sustained injuries not believed to be life-threatening, Barrs said. The firefighter suffered first-degree burns on his face and legs, but was not transported to a hospital.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined, but authorities said it appears to be suspicious. Arson investigators from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office remained in the rubble Tuesday afternoon. A "For Sale" sign stood untouched on the house's front lawn.
The injured woman was the only person inside the home at the time, Barrs said, but firefighters also rescued two dogs and some birds. Several residents of nearby homes were checked for smoke inhalation.
"I was happy to get her out of there," Woodward said of her neighbor. "We take care of each other."
Danielle Paquette can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4224.