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Flames too hot for neighbors to help two women who died in Largo trailer fire

A neighbor said he warned them to be careful with their smoking. One woman was disabled and took medications that made her drowsy.
Largo firefighters and police investigate the scene of a fatal house fire Friday. One neioghbor said he busted out a window to help but was turned back by the flames.
Largo firefighters and police investigate the scene of a fatal house fire Friday. One neioghbor said he busted out a window to help but was turned back by the flames.
Published Feb. 8, 2019

LARGO — Eric Emery woke Friday to the sound of crackling. When he opened his eyes, he saw an orange glow in the skylights of his travel trailer parked at the Avalon RV Resort.

Emery threw on shorts and a shirt and ran outside to find flames shooting from the roof of his neighbor's home, just feet away from the back of his trailer.

It was his friend's place.

"My first instinct was to go over there and make sure they got out, but the fire department was pulling up at that point," Emery said.

By then, though, it was too late. Largo Fire Rescue crews who extinguished the blaze found the bodies of two women inside.

Fire crews were called about 5:20 a.m. to the park at 16860 U.S. Highway 19. When they arrived about five minutes later, the trailer on Lot 264 was almost fully engulfed in flames, said Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Pennino. Firefighters tried to enter the home but were pushed back by the fire, Pennino said. After they extinguished the blaze, they discovered the bodies of two women.

The causes of the fire and the womens' deaths was still under investigation Friday, said Largo Police Lt. Randall Chaney. Their names were not released because investigators were working to confirm their identities.

Carl Borowicz lives across the street and said he ran to the house when he realized it was on fire and tried the front door, but it was locked. He ran back to his truck, got a mallet, broke a window and tried to reach inside, but the fire was too hot.

"It was like a 350 degree oven," he said.

Emery said the two women who lived there were both in their 50s. One of them, a friend of his and his family's, was already living there when he leased the spot behind hers about three years ago for his own travel trailer. His friend's home was an older travel trailer connected to a permanent structure beneath what appeared to be a common roof.

"There are a few of them in here like that that could never be moved," he said.

The other woman who lived there was a friend of hers who moved in about nine months ago, Emery said. He didn't know her well.

Both women smoked cigarettes in the house, and Emery said his friend was disabled and took medications that made her drowsy.

"I used to tell her all the time when I'd go over there and see the cigarette holes in her blanket, 'You've got to watch that smoking, especially when you're taking medicine and nodding off.' My gut tells me it was probably that."

He said his friend liked to go boating and create art with colored pencils and markers.

"It breaks my heart. I hope that she didn't suffer," Emery said. "I'll always remember her as a big-hearted person who would do anything for one of her friends."

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Times photographer Chris Urso contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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