Tampa townhouse building, bungalow catch fire

TAMPA — A fire at a two-story townhouse building in South Tampa spread to a nearby home early Saturday, causing thousands of dollars in damage. No injuries were reported.

About 1 a.m., firefighters responded to 308 S Gomez Ave., Unit D, where they found smoke and flames coming from the back of the townhouses, according to Tampa Fire Rescue. The blaze quickly spread to a metal backyard shed and small bungalow at 306 S Gomez Ave.

Firefighters discovered a propane gas bottle on one of the townhouses' back porches, which was venting and feeding the fire. Rescuers said there was another gas bottle inside the metal shed.

Despite the challenges, the fire was under control in about a half-hour, and no one was injured. Investigators said the fire started on the wooden deck behind Unit D, but the cause was unknown. They said the fire did not seem suspicious.

Rescuers said Kathryn Steffans and her boyfriend, Donnie Miller, both 27, were asleep upstairs when they heard a window break, saw the flames and called 911.

Damage to townhouse units D and C was estimated at $100,000, with smoke and water damage inside and the wooden decks nearly destroyed, rescuers said.

Inside the 306 Gomez Ave. home was 83-year-old Betty Burgess, who also heard the noise and escaped unscathed. Rescuers said her home, where she has lived for nearly 50 years, was saved from serious damage, though her metal shed was destroyed.

A neighbor's 1994 Toyota Camry parked nearby suffered about $1,000 in damage.

Tampa townhouse building, bungalow catch fire 06/26/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 26, 2010 10:36pm]

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