Seminole family escapes house fire

Published Jun. 20, 2012

SEMINOLE — Maria Scarzafava was having one of those late-night cravings that only frozen egg rolls can cure.

She put them on the stove about 3 a.m., then went to use the bathroom.

When she returned, she said, flames were climbing above the stove top.

"It just got out of control," said Scarzafava, 60.

She tried to stifle the blaze, throwing flour, baking soda and other dry powders on the fire.

It was no use.

The flames consumed the cabinets and licked the ceiling.

That's when she knew it was time to escape.

Scarzafava woke her 90-year-old mother, Theresa D'Antoni, and Todd Hageman, 50. The three escaped through the house's front and back doors before the fire consumed the rest of their home at 12133 Rhonda Ter.

By the time Seminole Fire Rescue arrived on the scene, the blaze had grown so out of control that firefighters were forced to call for reinforcements.

Largo Fire Rescue and Pinellas Suncoast Fire Rescue helped, said Seminole Chief George Bessler, and within an hour and a half, firefighters were able to get the fire under control. But every part of the house had smoke, fire or water damage, he said, and the 2,020-square-foot home was considered a total loss.

"We're just glad to get out of there alive," Scarzafava said.

Hageman said they were so worried about getting out unscathed that they didn't think to take anything with them.

"You'd think you'd have time to go in and get stuff out," he said. "But when it's blazing like that. …"

Among the items feared to have been lost to the fire are several dozen of D'Antoni's paintings. She crafted landscapes and portraits of her children, grandchildren and pets, Scarzafava said, and she had hoped to give them to family members as gifts.

Bessler said the Red Cross will help the displaced family with temporary housing, clothing and food.