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Woman, 53, dies from burns suffered in fire at vacant St. Petersburg house

ST. PETERSBURG — Two days after suffering severe burns in a fire that engulfed a vacant home early Sunday, Natalie L. Rogers died at Bayfront Medical Center.

She was 53.

The death has been classified as suspicious pending an autopsy, police said.

It's still not clear how the fire started. An investigation remained under way Tuesday.

Rogers, who was charged with first-degree arson in 1995, had been living on the streets on and off for several years, said Jane Walker of Daystar Life Center. She had a history of mental illness, Walker said.

Police say firefighters found Rogers inside a vacant house at 911½ Ninth Ave. S with burns to 15 percent of her body about 5 a.m. Sunday.

There did not appear to be any trauma to her body indicating an attack before the blaze.

Walker said Rogers did not smoke or drink alcohol.

She didn't always take her medications regularly, but she wasn't prone to violence or self-harm, Walker said.

"She always had a new best friend," Walker said. "People took advantage of her a lot because of her condition, because she was so trusting. But that was just Natalie."

In 1995, Rogers was arrested after allegedly setting afire the bed in her room at the Mari-Jean assisted living community, at Central Avenue and 24th Street N. The room was occupied by other residents at the time of the incident, according to a police report.

She was later ruled mentally unfit to stand trial for the charge.

Rogers, who had her mail delivered to Daystar, hadn't been to the facility to pick it up in several weeks, Walker said.

"We were worried about her," she said. "I always knew she would die on the street somehow. I just didn't know it'd be like this."

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Woman, 53, dies from burns suffered in fire at vacant St. Petersburg house 05/22/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 9:43pm]
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