Water Issues Factored in Destruction of Fla. Home


Firefighters had trouble putting out a massive early-morning fire at a million-dollar Windermere home Monday, because the closest fire hydrant was a half-mile away. Firefighters had to make 17 trips to the 5,000-square-foot home on Lake Mabel Drive in Orange County to bring in water.

Homeowners are on private wells and they believe that's the issue. The fire department, however, said that's not necessarily it, but WFTV is still waiting for answers.

The million-dollar home was a total loss after massive flames ripped through it around 12:30am Monday. Harold and Lisa Sherman raced from Daytona Beach and watched as their dream home burned to a charred mess.

Too distraught to talk, their neighbors told WFTV it took two years to build their lakefront home.

"It's kind of scary, sad to lose your home," neighbor Doug Mikkelson said.

James Bennett first smelled smoke and then spotted the giant fire coming from his neighbor's home.

"I took my dog out for a last call when I smelled a lot of smoke," Bennett said.

Bennett lives next door to the house that was on fire. He ran home and dialed 911 while his wife tried to contact his neighbors, who own the burning home.

Water was not readily available for firefighters. For two hours, firefighters trucked water from a hydrant a half-mile away, which is the length of nine football fields. An Orange County Fire Rescue spokesperson didn't have an immediate answer when WFTV called to find out why there are no hydrants nearby.

KB Homes is developing neighboring land, but phase three and four are years away and that's when Lake Mable Road would get its own hydrants.

"We pay a lot in property taxes. I pay twelve-grand a year myself," Mikkelson said.

The Sherman's pay $18,000 and, according to the property appraiser's website, nearly $2,000 of that goes to the Orange County fire tax.

"I'm willing to pay for services, just please provide services," Mikkelson said.

Those who witnessed firefighters battling the relentless flames said crews did a tremendous job, but they wondered, if water was right there, could the job had been better.

"It's a safety issue that should be addressed," Mikkelson said.

WFTV spoke to the fire marshal and they still don't have a cause of the fire. No one was injured in the fire.

The house was for sale, and there is no indication it was in foreclosure.

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