St. Petersburg Times--South Pinellas Edition

Couple badly burned after stove blast ignites home
The husband and wife are hospitalized. He tells rescuers a propane stove in the mobile home exploded.

By MIKE BRASSFIELD
St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- A retired couple were burned and their home was destroyed in a fire Friday afternoon.

The husband and wife, who appeared to be in their 60s or 70s, were taken by ambulance to Tampa General Hospital's burn unit for treatment.

The woman suffered burns over at least 50 percent of her body, and the man had severe burns on his face, head and neck, said Lt. Rick Feinberg of the St. Petersburg Fire Department.

Their identities were not released Friday because authorities were trying to reach the couple's family.

Investigators were at the scene Friday night trying to determine the cause of the fire. Before the couple were taken to the hospital, the man told firefighters there was an explosion when he opened a propane stove inside the mobile home.

The fire started about 4:30 p.m. in the Treasure Village Mobile Home Park, 5151 Fourth St. N. The home in Lot 37A was quickly engulfed in flames, and a pillar of black smoke rose over the northeastern part of the city.

"Smoke was barreling out of there like a mushroom cloud," said Linda Hines, 16, who lives in the area. "Flames were coming out of the windows, then one whole side of the house."

The fire gutted the mobile home and the couple's car, which was in a carport.

Because homes in the park are tightly bunched, the fire threatened to spread before it was extinguished. Flames licked at the carport of the home just to the east, but that home escaped damage.

Neighbors said the couple had just moved into the mobile home on Thursday or Friday; they had previously lived in another home in the same park.