Fire destroys vacationing Tampa family's home

- A Tampa family on vacation received a call no one ever wants or expects to get: their home caught fire Thursday morning and is totally destroyed.

At around 6 a.m., neighbors on North River Road noticed the flames, which could be seen for miles from the air, and called 911.

"They're really nice people and this is when bad things happen to good people," said Janet Chrosniak, who lives next door.

Janet's husband, Don Chrosniak was among the first to see the flames.

"Some people across the street that were just walking down the sidewalk noticed that next door's house was on fire," Don Chrosniak said. "I got the hose, went around the side of the house, started putting it on their roof and noticed that it was coming onto our roof also."

He said he broke a window to try to save the homeowners' two cats, but wasn't able to get the animals out of the house.

Investigators have not yet determined how the fire started, but Janet Chrosniak believes lightning struck nearby and overloaded the electrical box, which completely burned.

"It sounded like a bomb went off and it was a bright flash and it was a bad storm yesterday around five," she said, adding she had to call her neighbors, who were on vacation in Jamaica, and break the news. "She was frantic. I mean, what do you say when someone says your house is a total loss and you're out of the country?"

Janet said her neighbors had to book a last-minute flight back to Florida.

Neighbors said they're raising money online to try to help the homeowners recover.

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