1. Tampa

Fire damages McLane Middle School in Brandon.

Fire fighters responded to a fire at McLane Middle School in Brandon late Friday night. (Courtesy of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue)
Fire fighters responded to a fire at McLane Middle School in Brandon late Friday night. (Courtesy of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue)
Published Jul. 20

A fire badly damaged parts of McLane Middle School in Brandon on Friday night.

When firefighters arrived shortly after 11 p.m., they saw flames coming from the roof and second floor of the two-story building.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Eric Seidel said the roof collapsed and the second floor was damaged. The first floor was largely unscathed. No one was hurt.

School district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said the 8-classroom building is "a total loss."

Students, who return to school in three weeks, will work out of other parts of the campus. Structural engineers will evaluate the walls of nearby buildings for any damage, Arja said.

As of early Saturday afternoon, investigators hadn't released an official cause of the blaze, which started in the attic. Seidel said a lightning strike from the storm that rolled through Friday night may be to blame.

Firefighters took about 30 minutes to control the fire. They stayed at the scene until about 3 a.m.

While McLane has improved under principal Dina Langston, the school has had trouble with discipline and violence in the past. In the 2013-14 school year, McLane students were three times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than those at other Hillsborough middle schools.

The last five years have been much calmer, however, with school leaders taking steps to meet the needs of their diverse student body. McLane also boasts a successful robotics program that has remained competitive despite the school's challenges.

"This is a difficult time, but we will continue to move forward and demonstrate, both staff and students, just how Viking Strong we are," said assistant principal Troy Vasaturo.

Times staff writer Marlene Sokol contributed to this story. Contact Amanda Zhou at Follow @amondozhou


  1. The victim in Friday's shooting at a Tampa police officer's home has been identified as 15-year-old Bradley Hulett of Lithia. Hulett is pictured here on the Facebook page of Operation Lotus, a Hillsborough County non-profit that supports families coping with tragedy and is raising money for Hulett's family. [Facebook]
    Bradley Hulett, 15, was described as sweet, intelligent and charismatic.
  2. Off-duty detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, 32, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol early Saturday morning. A four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s office, Ricketts was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  HCSO]
    Detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.
  3. Eric Anthony Hall, 42, faces charges of felon in possession of a firearm. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    The man who rented the semi-automatic pistol his companion was shooting faces charges of felon in possession of a firearm.
  4. Joshua Leon Carmona is accused in the 2017 fatal beating of his mother, Tahirih Lua D'Angelo. He faces trial in January 2020. [Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
    Joshua Carmona is accused of beating his mother to death in their Riverview home in 2017. New documents shed light on why the crime may have occurred.
  5. Tech Data CEO Rich Hume (left) shares a moment with his predecessor, Bob Dutkowsky, during a send-off celebration for Dutkowsky on June 7, 2018 at the company's 
 headquarters in Largo. At the time, Tech Data had already received the first in what would become a series of purchase offers from New York-based private equity giant Apollo Global Management. Along the way, Dutkowsky would play a key role in negotiations with Apollo. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times (2018)
    Apollo Global Management has been trying to buy Tech Data for a year and a half. Along the way, four other companies were interested, too. Two made offers.
  6. Roy Dean, 42, of Tampa has been charged in the November shooting death of 47-year-old Alex Stephens. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
    Roy Ennice Dean III told police he was upset after he’d been suckerpunched by Alex Stephens, who became famous for another shooting, this one over Facebook.
  7. Traffic backing up on southbound Interstate 275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge Thursday evening after the Florida Highway Patrol said a fatal crash took place hours earlier. [Florida Department of Transportation]
    The collision of two pickups left traffic snarled for hours.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has launched a campaign dubbed "Bead Free Bay" in an effort to keep beads out of Tampa Bay during the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.
    Tampa created a public education campaign to warn revelers —especially boaters — to protect the bay’s ecosystem from toxic beads.
  9. Katie Golden, left, died from a drug overdose in 2017. Titan Goodson, right, is accused of manslaughter in her death. [Family photo | Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Titan Goodson stands accused in the 2017 heroin overdose death of Plant High senior Katie Golden. In an unusual trial, a jury will decide if he is responsible.
  10. Pinellas County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel said a Tampa economic development group's recent decision to put "Tampa Bay" into its name "does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration."
    But in Tampa, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit, government-supported economic development group is giving no sign of backing off the new name.