House fire displaces four

Sep. 18, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Four people were inside when a house in the 3200 block of Green Valley Drive caught fire just after 10 p.m. Monday.

All four — a pair of grandparents and two grandchildren — escaped the house unharmed, Sanford Fire Department officials said. The house, however, likely can’t be saved; SFD Battalion Commander Scott Knuth, who was on the scene Tuesday morning when a small fire rekindled at the residence, said he would estimate the house was at least 75 percent damaged.

According to Sanford Fire Chief Wayne Barber, James and Renee Thomas were at the home with two grandchildren when the call about the blaze came in at 10:05 p.m. His department was on the scene within five minutes, he said, and stayed for about three hours battling the flames.

At the home on Tuesday morning, the burned-out garage held ashes and the charred and bent body of a truck; the kitchen also was full of destruction. Other rooms weren’t visible, although the roof over much of the house showed signs of damage and most, if not all, of the windows were broken. Both the cause and the source of the fire were still under investigation as of Tuesday afternoon but should be known by sometime this week, SFD Inspector Alex Colazzo said Tuesday.

Barber added later: “There is no foul play that we see. We think it’s an accidental fire; everything is pointing that way.”

Generally, people displaced by fires are looked after by the American Red Cross, which provides temporary shelter and supplies. But Lee County Red Cross Coordinator Michelle Bullard said this family evidently turned to someone else for help.

“We did not get a call about the fire last night, so I’m not really sure,” she said Tuesday. “... Apparently they didn’t request our services — but we hope they’re OK.”

Barber said firefighters always tell people about the services the Red Cross offers, but he thinks the Thomases chose to stay with family instead.