High Springs home that owner built himself goes up in flames

Firefighters from Alachua County Fire Rescue and Newberry Fire Rescue fight a house fire at 7401 NW 205th St. in Alachua County between High Springs and Newberry on Thursday. High Springs Fire Rescue and the Florida Division of Forestry also responded to the fire, which consumed the home and spread into the yard and into brush across the street. Homeowner David Gravedoni, 40, who built the house himself, was not home at the time of the fire.

BRIANA BROUGH/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 27, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 8:54 p.m.
David Gravedoni was driving home from a morning appointment Thursday when he saw smoke coming from the direction of his home on NW 205th Street in High Springs.
"I pulled around the corner and I thought, 'I hope that's not my house,' " Gravedoni said as he stood outside what was once a two-story home he built with his own hands - now reduced to a blackened shell by a massive fire early Thursday afternoon.
The home, at 7401 NW 205th St., was destroyed in the fire that Gravedoni, 40, speculated was started by a wood-burning heater that he built attached to the back of the house.
Gravedoni said the heater was in a separate building that abutted the home and circulated heated water through the concrete floors of the home.
He said he used the heater Wednesday night, and when he left his home at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, everything seemed fine.
"It was an ingenious design, but I was just in too much of a hurry to take enough safety precautions," he said as he watched firefighters pull crumpled metal roofing from the ashes of the home.
The fire also set Gravedoni's yard on fire, burning about an acre and a half of his five-acre property, then jumping over a road and burning another quarter-acre.
District Chief Mitch Harrell said units from Alachua County Fire Rescue, Newberry Fire Rescue, High Springs Fire Rescue and the Division of Forestry all responded to the fire.
By the time the first unit arrived, the fire had fully engulfed the house and firefighters simply tried to keep the fire from spreading. However, it managed to light the brush around the home on fire, and it was another few minutes before a brush truck arrived to properly fight the spreading brush fire.
"For a little while, we were trying to handle the (brush) fire with trucks that weren't equipped for it," Harrell said.
Gravedoni said he is now without a home and a job, because he works as a building remodeler and almost all of his tools were destroyed in the fire. He also said he has no family in the area.
"I don't know what to think right now," he said. "I have no insurance. I lost all my tools and everything - $50,000 worth of tools."
The American Red Cross was alerted to assist Gravedoni and his two dogs - a Siberian husky and a Labrador - for the next two days. To offer any help to Gravedoni, contact the American Red Cross.
Alice Wallace can be reached at 374-5036 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com.

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