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Fire highlights lack of hydrants

Harry Jackson watched his childhood home burn to the ground Sunday as a house fire tore through the mobile home in less than half an hour.

Jackson said the uninsured building at 1162 Gladys St., Brooksville, had been unoccupied for two years.

Neighbors called the Brooksville Fire Department about 12:30 p.m., and within half an hour, firefighters dumped 4,000 gallons of water on the blaze.

"It took about three truckloads of water to put the fire completely out," Capt. Frank Phillips said. "This one went pretty quickly."

Many Gladys Street residents were angry because firefighters had to make three trips across busy Jefferson Street for water since the neighborhood has no fire hydrants.

Alonzo Fagin said he plans to circulate a petition among his neighbors to force the city to put in hydrants.

"Look at all the businesses that have popped up around this neighborhood," he said. "This is a very dangerous situation. We were just lucky this time that no one was hurt."

Jackson, who now lives on Mondon Hill Road, said the fire was the second his family has suffered on the same piece of land. In 1972, his grandfather's house burned to the ground on the same spot. The blame for that fire was attributed to an old chimney.

"There have been a lot of fires on this street in the last 20 years," Jackson said. "And it would just be so simple to put in hydrants."

Because of the burn pattern, Phillips said he suspects the fire started in the kitchen. The state fire marshal began an investigation of the blaze late Sunday, calling it "suspicious."

Jackson said the mobile home had no electrical service or gas tanks.

"I have to think this fire was deliberately set by someone," Jackson said. "And that hurts."