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Fire Leaves Gulfport Family Homeless

The entire house is a loss but the family of five is safe, because of the quick response of a grandmother who awoke to the crackle of flames.

Gulfport Fire Chief James Marenkovic says the 911 call for help came in just before 1 a.m. Wednesday regarding a fire at 4711 Coronado Way.

A husband and wife, in their 50s, their 26-year-old son and two grandchildren were inside. The woman was sleeping in a front bedroom just feet from the garage and heard the crackling of flames.

She woke up, saw a glow coming from the garage and got the rest of the family out of the house safely, according to Marenkovic.

Merenkovic says the fire started in the garage and spread to overhead trees. Because of the fire damage and heavy smoke, the entire house is a "total loss."

He says flames reached as high as 20 feet. In all, Gulfport Fire received help from South Pasadena, Treasure Island and St. Pete Fire & Rescue.

Chief Marenkovic, Detective Randy St. Clair with the State Fire Marshall's Office and Gulfport Fire Investigator Frank Vento are on scene now surveying the damage and looking into the cause of the fire.

Gulfport Fire Investigator Frank Vento says although the fire "looks accidental," the investigation is on going.

Vento adds that the family did not have smoke detectors in the house. He says the Gulfport Fire Department has free smoke detectors at the station for those who need one. Just stop by or call (727) 893-1059 to pick one up.

Fire officials contacted the family on behalf of the media and at this time, they do not wish to talk about the fire.

Marenkovic says family members are helping them stay in North St. Petersburg. In the meantime, firefighters are putting togther a gift basket with a turkey and other Thanksgiving side dishes for the family to pick up this afternoon.

"We're doing what we can," Marenkovic said.

Denise Lowe November 21, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Thank God they are all safe
Rob Fowler November 21, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Theresa and I just bought replacement fire detectors for our home. The ones we had have been here since before we moved in last year. They "might" be OK, but for 5 bucks a piece, why gamble. We obviously slept through the sirens last night, so a crackling sound of a fire would not wake us up.
Lynda November 21, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Very nice--and proactive-- program for the Gulfport Fire department to offer free smoke detectors. Good thinking on their part to save lives and property. One thing I would add, if you have residents who are hard of hearing, there are detectors with lights, Many people who remove hearing aids at night would simply not hear a smoke detector.
Louis Amandola November 21, 2012 at 08:47 PM
My own advice to home owners, is to invest in120 volt detectors. (located per code) Most all units have battery back-up for intermittent power failure. This type of unit enables it to be wired in tandem with all other units. If one goes off, they 'all' go off. (That will get your attention!) I am not quite sure if this could be a permit related issue, but a competetent electrician could easily install them. Cost at Home Depot about $25.00 each.
Cherlene Willis November 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Great piece of advice Lynda! That's right, the Gulfport Fire Department will offer FREE smoke detectors if you need one.
Cherlene Willis November 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
I've heard from several residents who are eager to help this family, however, I do not have any concrete information about donations or a benefit for the family. I just spoke with officials at the Gulfport Fire Department who also, do not have exact information for donations. I'll keep everyone posted if I hear more. If anyone else hears of such efforts, please let me know! - Cherlene
Trace Taylor November 21, 2012 at 10:21 PM
What a tragedy. My heart goes out to them. They're just a few blocks from me. The sirens woke me in the night.
Cherlene Willis November 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Also! Talked to officials earlier who say the homeowner stopped by and picked up the turkey, sides and pies as well! Special thanks to the Gulfport Fire Department for helping out the family for Thanksgiving.
Lynda November 22, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Thanks for all the updates, Cherlene. It is very useful to have such a local focus to help us all keep in touch.-- and help where we can.
CJ November 22, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Many Fire Departments suggest an easy way to remember when to change the batteries is at the same time daylight savings time starts and begins.
Paul Ray November 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Is there anything we as a community can do? I am willing to help in anyway I can.
Nakita November 23, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I am an extended family member from mass, and I was in shock to hear of this on Thanksgiving day. I would love to thank everyone including the Fire department for helping my family in time of need. We all are greatful for everyone helping in time of need.
Gina Burke November 24, 2012 at 01:08 PM
UPDATE ABOUT BREMER FAMILY FIRE - The family is doing OK. Mrs. Bremer is going out of town to stay with family and Mr. Bremer and son, Nathan, are staying at a friends condo while looking for a more permanent place to stay. Nathan has an immediate problem with his dog, who is an american pit terrier (as sweet as can be). He can not have her at the condo that they are currently staying at. He needs a temporary dog sitter until they can find more permanent housing. The dog, Jody's, shots are all up-to-date and Nathan is willing to pay for food and will assist in the taking care of his beloved dog. He just needs a temorary place to stay. Anyone who can help out, please let me know. Thanks!
Cherlene Willis November 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Gina, Thanks so much for being a go-to person for this family. Gulfport is lucky to have you! And I thank you for all your efforts! How should people contact you if they are able to help?
Joanne November 26, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Is there any organized plan to help this family?
Cherlene Willis November 26, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Trace Taylor has been in contact with Nathan about his dog. She's included contact information about finding a temporary home for his dog in this post: http://gulfport.patch.com/blog_posts/fire-victim-needs-temporary-home-can-you-help-this-dog
Cherlene Willis December 03, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Update from Chief James Marenkovic: "The origin of the fire was inside the garage, the cause has been left as undetermined." Also from the Chief: "Undetermined – Whenever the cause cannot be proven to an acceptable level of certainty, the proper classification is undetermined."

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