Pensacola News Journal

Woman critical after fire in home

Sean Smith

State fire marshals are investigating a blaze that injured a Cantonment woman early Sunday.

Karen Goddard, 43, was listed in critical condition Sunday at University of South Alabama Burn Center.

The fire, which included an explosion that blew debris onto a neighboring home, gutted the double-wide manufactured home.

This was the second time firefighters had been called to a suspicious blaze at the home in recent months. Cantonment firefighters were summoned to Goddard's home a few months ago for a suspicious fire caused by gasoline, Cantonment Volunteer Fire Chief Jeff Bingle said. The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived. Records were not available for the exact date.

Sunday's explosion rattled neighbors Jeff and Dianne Howell about 3:30 a.m.

"Our house shook. Then I heard stuff hitting the side of the house," Jeff Howell said.

Outside, he could see straight into one of the rooms of Goddard's home, where she resides with her teenage daughter. Smoke poured out the back side of the home.

"There was this explosion and then this deep rumbling," Dianne Howell said. "I thought, `What in God's name was that?' I looked outside and all I saw was flames. I started crying."

There were no cars outside, but Jeff Howell checked the windows to see if anyone was home. He checked the windows of the daughter's room, but found no one.

Goddard had been taken away by relatives by the time firefighters arrived 10 minutes after the call, Bingle said. They were taking her to the hospital when an ambulance met the family at a church and transferred her to West Florida Hospital, dispatchers said. She was later flown to USA Burn Center by Baptist LifeFlight.

Bingle said the signs of an explosion were obvious.

"The fire was pretty well spread," Bingle said.

The back windows of the home were blown out and blinds were strewn more than 20 feet away from the house, with some clothing on the Howells' roof, Bingle said.