PALATKA DAILY NEWS
Fire leaves family homeless
by Andy Hall
Palatka Daily News
A family that moved from Montana to Palatka in recent months was left homeless by a Monday morning fire just outside the city limits on Cecille.
Flames already had engulfed approximately three-quarters of the wood-frame house when the first firefighters arrived shortly before 8:30 a.m., according to Larry Beaton, chief of the Southwest Volunteer Fire Department.
There were no injuries, but the house was a total loss and was not insured, said Beaton, estimating the value of the home and contents at $40,000.
"They basically got out with the clothes on their back," Beaton said. "They've got some neighbors trying to help them. The Red Cross was on the scene within an hour and a half with vouchers for food and clothes and the Palatka Christian Service Center was contacted."
Beaton identified the residents as John and Lori Kurta and children ages 16, 15 and 3. They spent Monday night at a motel, Beaton said.
"They seem like really nice folks. It's a real shame," Beaton said.
Lori Kurta was awakened by the smell of smoke, discovered the fire in a closet and awakened her husband and children in time for all to escape safely, Beaton said.
A Palatka firefighter crawled under the house to retrieve the family's frightened dog and revived the pet with oxygen, Beaton said.
The house was too badly burned for officials to determine a cause.
"There's a couple of possibilities," Beaton said. "They had been having some problems with the gas, but the (Palatka) Gas Authority had been out a few days ago."
Firefighters from the Southwest, Palatka and Francis departments had the blaze under control within 30 minutes and were on the scene for almost three hours, Beaton said. While they were unable to save the house, they did prevent its spread to a two-story apartment next door.
The fire's proximity to the city limits allowed them to use a city hydrant. "The city pulled their big deluge gun," Beaton said.
The blaze involved 16 firefighters and five engines, Beaton said.
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01-22-2003, 04:42 PM #1
Palatka Fla.--Fire Displaces Family--destroys home
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