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Barking dogs alert couple to fire at home

Jeremy Kingry and his wife, Zennya, stood outside the charred remains of their 1925 Seminole Heights bungalow Friday morning and gave thanks to four-legged heroes.

Their retired greyhounds, Rogan, 3, and Mojo,, 6, barked as a raging fire next door spread to the west side of their property, 113 W Curtis St.

The Kingrys awoke to the dogs' cries before 6 a.m., as the fire that had begun minutes earlier at 115 W Curtis St. engulfed their 16{-foot boat and their deck.

The warning came not a minute too soon: Just as the Kingrys grabbed the dogs and reached the front door, a gas can near their boat exploded, waking up residents two blocks away and shattering the Kingrys' west windows.

"My foot was out the door, I looked over to see where the fire was, and boom!" Zennya said. "I just ran out of there. It spread so fast, it was unbelievable."

About 30 Tampa Fire Rescue workers got the blaze under control about 6:30 a.m. By then, the fire had burned a path through the Kingrys' yard, into their living room and up into their attic.

The boat, the deck, their 1999 Yamaha water scooter, even Jeremy's 1991 Jeep Wrangler were all destroyed. The living room was a wet, charred mess. Water dripped from the attic, where firefighters had aimed their hoses. Couches sank under the weight of fallen insulation. Window frames lay on the floor in pieces.

But the Kingrys dismissed the damage as material, and just kept marveling at Mojo and Rogan.

"If it hadn't been for those dogs, I don't know what would have happened to us," said Jeremy Kingry, 31.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but it began at about 5:40 a.m., according to Tampa Fire Rescue. The 1,200-square-foot home at 115 W Curtis St., where the fire started, was being renovated. Neighbors said it had been essentially a shell, with a roof and walls but no insulation. Property records show it was bought last year by Ultra-Investments LLC for $53,000.

Fire destroyed the house, save for a short wall of bricks near the front entrance.

It also blackened the awnings of a home to the east of the 115 W Curtis St. property.

At one point, neighbors said, seven or eight fire trucks lined the narrow street. Morning radio shows warned rush-hour commuters to avoid the area because traffic was backed up around it.

The Kingrys bought their 1,382-square-foot house in 2002 for $91,000, according to property records. In the past year or so, they had taken down old wallpaper and made improvements to the windows.

Friday morning, they sent Mojo and Rogan off with a relative and pondered where to sleep in the nights ahead.

"I have a friend in north Seminole Heights," Jeremy Kingry said. "Maybe we'll stay with him for a while. After that, I don't know. The important thing is, we got out in time."

_ Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at 226-3373 or