Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Untended pot of boiling potatoes ignites a blaze that leaves two families homeless

PALMETTO BEACH — Personnel at Tampa's Palmetto Beach fire station heard someone pounding on the front door at 4:47 a.m. Thursday.

About a minute later, the firefighters were at the duplex just down the street, at 2217 Linsey St., where they saw flames and smoke coming from the building.

The crews had the fire under control in 15 minutes. No one was injured, officials say. But two families were without homes on Thanksgiving after a pot of boiling potatoes caused an early-morning fire at a Tampa duplex.

An investigator reported that the fire started in unit A, where Allee Watson, 61, of Philadelphia was visiting his son, Stephan Watson, 47.

Allee Watson boiled potatoes on the stove early Thursday morning but forgot to turn the burner off when he was done, authorities said.

Thinking he had turned it off, he went to lay down in the bedroom at about 2 a.m.

Stephan Watson got home from work shortly after 2 a.m. and went to sleep. He woke up when his dog started barking.

The apartment was so full of thick black smoke he couldn't see anything, and he yelled for his father, Tampa Fire Rescue reported. The two men and the dog got out safely.

Next door, Debbie Pilcher, 45, and her daughter, Shainta Pilcher, 20, woke up when they heard their neighbors yelling. The two women and Shainta Pilcher's month-old daughter, Jasmine, got outside safely.

The fire burned only Watson's unit, but Pilcher's apartment was badly damaged by water and smoke. The total loss is about $45,000, Fire Rescue reported.

There wasn't a smoke alarm in Watson's unit, officials said.

The American Red Cross is helping the families with temporary shelter.

Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Bill Wade says that cooking is the most common cause of fires in the home. He offered a few tips:

Always keep a watchful eye on food when it is cooking on the stove. Double check to make sure all burners are completely off when you are finished cooking and never leave anything — including food, dishes or cook books — resting on burners in case the burner is accidentally left on or turned on.

Times staff writer Luis Perez contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or [email protected]

Untended pot of boiling potatoes ignites a blaze that leaves two families homeless 11/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 25, 2010 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's streak of 35 consecutive bowl appearances is in serious jeopardy after a last-second 31-28 home loss to Louisville on Saturday.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  2. Funeral starts for soldier at center of Trump fight


    COOPER CITY, Fla. (AP) — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  3. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  4. Police plan community meeting as search for Seminole Heights killer continues


    TAMPA — With people in Seminole Heights on edge following three related shooting deaths on their streets, police have planned a community meeting for Monday.

    The three Seminole Heights victims, from left: Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 22; Monica Caridad Hoffa, 32; and Anthony Naiboa, 20. [Facebook, family photos]
  5. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.