Fire forces family from mobile home

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter
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Starke, Fla - Just before 10 pm Friday night, a Starke police officer discovered a mobile home on fire on East Market Road.

Firefighters from Starke and Lawtey responded and found one end of the singlewide trailer on fire. Firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control, however due to the age of the structure and the heat and smoke damage the home was deemed uninhabitable.

The Red Cross responded to the scene to assist the family placing them in a hotel on Friday night and providing a relief card for food and clothing.

"We provided a place to stay and financial assistance for them and the child," said Marvin Artman, a Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team member.

The homeowner, Gerald Smith, who rents the trailer to a family of two adults and a 3-year old child reported to Starke firefighters that a lamp had fallen over in a back bedroom and started a small fire. The occupants extinguished the fire, and thinking everything was OK, left the residence. They returned a short time later to find firefighters battling the blaze.

No injuries were reported. A police investigation is ongoing as a result of a marijuana plant found on the property.

"This Market Road fire was easily preventable," said Michael Heeder, Public Information Officer with Bradford County Emergency Management. "Here we have a lamp that fell over sparking an accidental fire, and even though they believed the fire was out, they didn't call to have it checked before leaving the residence."

Any fire inside a building, no matter how slight, should be inspected by the fire department to assure the fire is completely out.

"It's much better to call us when there has been a fire that was extinguished than to risk a fire reigniting, especially at night while family members are sleeping." Heeder said.

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