LAND O'LAKES — A 71-year-old woman and two dogs perished in a house fire Wednesday near the county recreation center.
Authorities identified the victim as Barbara Andersen. She died in the house at 22620 Hawk Hill Loop, along with a Doberman pinscher and a small lap dog. Rescue workers were able to save a third dog, giving it oxygen. The cause of the fire was still under investigation Wednesday evening, but officials said it appeared accidental.
Pasco Fire Rescue responded to the fire around 9:30 a.m. and had it contained within five minutes.
An hour later, the beige house in Valencia Gardens appeared undamaged from the outside, except for a broken front window. Yellow police tape surrounded the lawn.
"The house was full of smoke," said Micah King, 33, an off-duty Hillsborough County firefighter who lives nearby. He heard the home's fire alarm blaring and alerted 911.
"I called (inside the home) to see if anyone would answer," King said. He got no response.
Pasco property appraiser's records show the home is registered to Kandie Shoolbred, 50. Her husband, William, died in December 2007 at age 64. Neighbors said they believed Shoolbred lived there with her mother.
Shoolbred could not be reached Wednesday. Relatives at the home declined to be interviewed.
The neighbors milling about Hawk Hill Loop Wednesday morning said they did not know Kandie Shoolbred or Andersen well, but they spoke highly of William Shoolbred, a former U.S. Coast Guard chief warrant officer.
Years ago, Shoolbred installed a flag pole in the home's front yard. He raised and lowered the American flag each day, neighbors said. After Sept. 11, 2001, he flew it at half staff until the last body was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Chris Wittersheim, 43, maintained the home's yard while Shoolbred was alive. The self-employed landscaper still ran his mower over the grass for free after Shoolbred's death. It was the neighborly thing to do, he said.
When Wittersheim saw Fire Rescue staff giving oxygen to Shoolbred's basset hound Buddy, he had to do something, he said.
"I used to play with that dog," Wittersheim said.
He scooped up Buddy and drove him to a nearby animal hospital. A cat and a bird also survived the fire, authorities said.
Wednesday afternoon, Wittersheim went to visit Buddy, but the dog had been transported to another animal hospital for treatment.
Buddy was going to be okay, the veterinarian told him.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.