Fire destroys one mobile home, damages another


12/09/03
By JOHN HUETTER
Daily Commercial Staff Writer
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FRUITLAND PARK

At least 19 fire department and fire district personnel spent part of early Sunday morning putting out a fire which destroyed a Skycrest Boulevard mobile home and had begun to spread to its neighbor, according to the Lake County Fire District chief.

One of the two men living in the double-wide mobile home on Skycrest Boulevard was awakened by a noise, district chief Steve Race said.

“He went to open the door and was knocked back by the fire,” he said. According to Race, the man yelled to the other tenant in the house and fled out the window; the other man awoke and escaped. “Luckily, there was an exit door by his bed,” Race said.

Race said there was “no time for nothing except ‘out’ ” and the two men lost everything.

At about 2:30 a.m., he said, a Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy saw the fire while driving down U.S. Highway 441 and called the Lake County Fire District. Race estimated at least eight firefighters from the district, eight from the Fruitland Park Fire Department and three from The Villages fire department went to the scene.

He said firemen wrote off the mobile home as “lost.” “Our priority is to protect everything else from burning,” Race said.

“Once (mobile homes) catch on fire, they go quickly,” Race said. He explained that due to the metal roofs in mobile homes, fire can’t escape through the roof but “has to go sideways out the window.”

The house next door had begun to blaze, Race said, but firefighters were able to put it out in about 15 minutes with only “surface damage” to the building. They spent the next 15 minutes securing the area before they were able to concentrate on the original burning mobile home, Race said.

Race said Fruitland Park firefighters aided the fire district forces until about 5 a.m. in tearing up the mobile home’s remains by hand and ensuring all the fires were extinguished. Fire district staff finally left the scene at 7 a.m., he said.

The fire marshall is still investigating, but Race said there are strong indications that the fire was an accident caused by one of the occupants lighting the mobile home’s furnace that evening.