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State Rep. Rick Kriseman loses his house to early morning fire

ST. PETERSBURG — An early-morning fire that may have been caused by an electrical problem in the attic destroyed the home of state Rep. Rick Kriseman on Wednesday, fire officials said.

The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m., about two hours after a dogsitter left the home, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue officials said. It took firefighters about 25 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

The Kriseman family was vacationing in Virginia when the fire broke out.

Property records show Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, and his wife, Kerry, purchased the 3,567-square-foot Lake Pasadena home at 6044 Third Ave. N in 1994.

The family's two Labrador retrievers, Henry and Maggie, were rescued by firefighters and were treated at a veterinary clinic in Treasure Island on Wednesday morning.

Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue said investigators ruled out foul play and said initial evidence suggests the fire started in the attic from an electrical source. Because the house was destroyed, they have to wait for the insurance company to send an electrical engineer before they can pin down a more exact cause.

Outside Kriseman's district office in St. Petersburg this morning, his legislative aide, Kevin King, said the family was driving home.

"They're trying to put it in perspective," King said. "Thank God it was just a house."

Early Wednesday, the smell of smoke wafted through the tranquil Lake Pasadena neighborhood. Some neighbors, just waking up after a noisy night filled with flames, sirens and lights, said they were relieved to hear the home was vacant.

"The heat," said neighbor Phil Deslandes, 58, gesturing toward his front yard, "you could feel it from here."

Kriseman represents Florida House District 53, which includes parts of Pinellas Park, Kenneth City, Lealman, Gulfport and St. Petersburg.

Times staff writers T. Allan Smith and Mary Jane Park contributed to this report. Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunathan@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

How to help

Members of the Junior League of St. Petersburg, of which Rep. Rick Kriseman's wife, Kerry, is a member, are receiving donations to help the family. Checks may be made to the Junior League of St. Petersburg (note "Kriseman family" in the memo line), 500 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N, Suite 201, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. The phone number is (727) 895-5018. Contributions are not tax-deductible.

On the Web

See video of the fire and the rescue of the Krisemans' dogs at pinellas.tampabay.com.

State Rep. Rick Kriseman loses his house to early morning fire 06/04/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:13pm]
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