Make us your home page
Instagram

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 jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

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

Loading...
  1. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.

  2. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Hechavarria active, Robertson sent down

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 3:09: Rays have activated Hechavarria and sent down Robertson.

    Also, C Derek Norris was released; he had been DFA'd last week.

    The stellar view from the press box at PNC Park.
  3. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur

    Blogs

    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.
  4. Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote

    National

    WASHINGTON — In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, talks with his chief of staff Sharon Soderstrom, right, and communications staff director Antonia Ferrier, left, as they walk to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." [Associated Press]
  5. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]