Fire damages SE 22nd duplex


Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2007 at 11:55 p.m.

A fire broke out on the stovetop of a southeast Gainesville home Friday evening, causing heavy smoke damage to the duplex.

The fire broke out sometime after the renters of the duplex say their utilities had been shut off because their power bill had gone unpaid.

"Our power had been cut off, so we went in to pay it right away in the morning," said Otis Douglas, who lived on the east side of the duplex with a woman who neighbors identified as Pearl Hiflin, 63, and one of Hiflin's adult daughters.

"After we paid our bill, we ran errands and we never did expect that they would turn our lights back on again so fast," Douglas said. "When we got back home, we could see the smoke and she (Hiflin) wanted to try to get in there and put the fire out."

Douglas said something flammable was apparently left on top of the stove and ignited when the power was restored.

No one was injured in the fire, but one side of the duplex in the 3300 block of SE 22nd Avenue was heavily smoke-damaged.

Alachua County deputies and firefighters from Alachua County Fire Rescue arrived at about the same time as the residents and were able to convince Hiflin to remain outdoors while they put out the stovetop fire.

Deputy Ricardo Vega said he and others forced their way into the south side of the duplex, concerned that someone may have been inside with the door locked and unable to get out.

Vega said no one was inside but some smoke had drifted into the unit.

Shenika Richardson, who lives in the south unit, said she was at work and her three children were involved in their after-school activities when the fire broke out. Firefighters used a large fan to blow lingering smoke out of Richardson's side of the duplex.

Damage estimates were being prepared for Douglas and Heflin's side of the duplex late Friday.

A fire broke out on the stovetop of a southeast Gainesville home Friday evening, causing heavy smoke damage to the duplex.

The fire broke out sometime after the renters of the duplex say their utilities had been shut off because their power bill had gone unpaid.

"Our power had been cut off, so we went in to pay it right away in the morning," said Otis Douglas, who lived on the east side of the duplex with a woman who neighbors identified as Pearl Hiflin, 63, and one of Hiflin's adult daughters.

"After we paid our bill, we ran errands and we never did expect that they would turn our lights back on again so fast," Douglas said. "When we got back home, we could see the smoke and she (Hiflin) wanted to try to get in there and put the fire out."

Douglas said something flammable was apparently left on top of the stove and ignited when the power was restored.

No one was injured in the fire, but one side of the duplex in the 3300 block of SE 22nd Avenue was heavily smoke-damaged.

Alachua County deputies and firefighters from Alachua County Fire Rescue arrived at about the same time as the residents and were able to convince Hiflin to remain outdoors while they put out the stovetop fire.

Deputy Ricardo Vega said he and others forced their way into the south side of the duplex, concerned that someone may have been inside with the door locked and unable to get out.

Vega said no one was inside but some smoke had drifted into the unit.

Shenika Richardson, who lives in the south unit, said she was at work and her three children were involved in their after-school activities when the fire broke out. Firefighters used a large fan to blow lingering smoke out of Richardson's side of the duplex.

Damage estimates were being prepared for Douglas and Heflin's side of the duplex late Friday.

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

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