Fire leaves family homeless
By Marc Dadigan staff writer
September 30, 2003

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ó A mother and daughter were left homeless Monday after their South County house was destroyed in a fire that was ignited by an overloaded electrical circuit, firefighters said.

Four fire engines and a ladder truck responded to the blaze at 1090 Eighth Court S.W. to find the white, single-story house engulfed in flames at about 2:30 p.m., said Battalion Chief John Freeman. Firefighters were able to knock down the fire in about 15 minutes, Freeman said, but were not immediately able to search the entire house as the flames persisted in the rear of the home.

About 3:15 p.m., 36-year-old Hazel Lopez was returning home from her job at a nearby Mobil gas station when she saw the flashing lights of the firetrucks and heard her neighbors yelling that the house, which she rents with her mother, had burned down, she said.

"I saw the smoke blowing through the trees and the people were saying it was coming from my house," she said. "I can't believe it. Everything I owned was in that house."

While Lopez and her mother were at work when the fire started, many of the women's pets were not so lucky.

A self-described animal lover, Lopez put her hand on her chest and exhaled deeply in relief when she learned her two puppies, Labrador-chow mixes, and a guinea pig had survived the blaze. Lopez had left the two dogs outside in her fenced yard when she left for work early in the morning.

But it appeared likely the parakeets, fish and baby rats Lopez also kept as pets had perished in the fire.

Almost an hour after firefighters arrived, white smoke still billowed from the home and firefighters continued to cautiously blast the flames with water from their fire hoses

Local American Red Cross officials also responded to the scene and provided Lopez and her mother with temporary lodging, he added.

- marc.dadigan@scripps.com