• Last modified 1259 days ago (Dec. 31, 2020)


Effort to save house in vain

Staff writer

Greg Berens knew more firefighters were needed before he even arrived on the scene Monday night.

Berens, Tampa’s fire chief, responded to an out-of-control house fire in Roxbury. Tampa was the second department on-scene, but Berens knew it was serious because he could see the fire from a distance.

“It was fully engulfed when we got there, so there was not much to save,” he said of the house

The house was a total loss and it burned almost completely to the ground.

The number of house fires usually rises during winter months because people use their furnaces and wood-burning stoves more often as weather gets colder, Berens said.

“That’s always more opportunity for structure fires,” he said.

“With the time of year, we always see a bit of a spike,” he said. “Trying to use an electric heater, getting that furnace going, or the first time the fireplace gets going without being cleaned properly.”

Recent weather hasn’t helped either, Berens said. High winds these past few weeks made several grass fires burn out of control, including one Tampa worked earlier this month where a wire being blown around caused sparks that ignited grasslands.

Hillsboro and Durham also were called to the Roxbury blaze, but Hillsboro chief Ben Steketee said the building was mostly burned down by the time he arrived.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do about that, especially with limited water supply,” he said.

As bad as the fire was, it could have been worse, Steketee said. There also was a propane tank nearby, but firefighters were able to keep it from igniting.

Last modified Dec. 31, 2020