TREE FIRE IN ORIGINAL CARROLLWOOD: When she plugged in the family Christmas tree Tuesday morning, Debra Arias heard an electrical crackle. Then she saw the tree smoking. Arias and her father, Jack Lamb, tried to drag the blazing 7-foot tree out the back door of her home at 2110 W Fore Drive, but the base of the tree got caught in the door. Flames caught hold in the house and spread.
"In seconds," said Mrs. Arias, standing in front of the charred, gutted home Tuesday afternoon in Original Carrollwood. "It happened in seconds."
Lamb, a member of the Hillsborough County School Board, was taken to University Community Hospital for treatment of minor burns, firefighters said. Firefighter-paramedic Phil Perez, 29, received a small burn on the side of his face while fighting the blaze.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Capt. Darryl Dzugen said the fire was reported just after 11 a.m. and was under control in about an hour. He said the fire did an estimated $150,000 worth of damage.
Mrs. Arias, 41, said that along with her parents, her two children _ Ashley, 13, and Kalyn, 10 _ were in the house when the fire began. Only her father was hurt. The family dogs, Tickles and Cloe, escaped unhurt too.
"We were just ready to have company come over," Mrs. Arias said. "I don't care about anything else but my children and my parents."
Although a propane tank from a barbecue grill was sitting only feet from the back of the blazing house, firefighters said it did not explode.
MAN JUMPS OFF BEARSS OVERPASS: A 28-year-old male from Tampa jumped off the Interstate 275 overpass at Bearss Avenue on Wednesday afternoon in an apparent suicide attempt, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. The man was in the northbound passing lane around 4:15 p.m. when he jumped into a pile of construction dirt on the north side of Bearss, which helped blunt his fall, Sgt. Rod Reder said.
The incident backed up traffic between Bearss and Fletcher avenues. The man was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital and was to be committed for psychiatric treatment after surgery, Reder said.
TAMPA PALMS MCDONALD'S ROBBED: The manager of a McDonald's in Tampa Palms was held up at gunpoint Wednesday morning by a suspect who fled on foot with $2,750, Tampa police said.
The suspect entered the store at 6:15 a.m. and told the manager to open the safe.