SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Two people were killed, a third person injured, in a house fire in Sarasota on Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to a home on the 3800 block of Sugar Lane at 2:56 p.m. when neighbor Mike Cook reported flames coming from a home across the street.
He said a few hours prior, around noon, he noticed an issue with his power and thought a transformer blew nearby.
“I heard what sounded like an explosion,” said Cook. “My wife came outside, and she said the power lines across the street were sparking.”
Cook said he saw a fire truck and workers with Florida Power and Light trimming trees behind his neighbor’s home to prevent the electrical wires from sparking on branches, but a short time after, he saw flames and smoke on the roof.
Sarasota County Fire and Rescue deemed it a three alarm fire.
“It went to three alarms because of the effort that the firefighters gave to rescue the victim. They had to go through an exterior wall to get the victim out,” said Fire Chief Mike Regnier.
An adult male was rescued from the home, but two others adults died inside. According to neighbors, the man saved was the son of the deceased couple.
“They were very nice people. They were disabled, so they didn’t get out very much,” said Cook.
According to property records, Cynthia and Ben Langford are the owners of the home. Several neighbors described the couple as being “morbidly obese,” and weighing an estimated 400 pounds each. They said it often took several minutes for the husband to walk from the door to his vehicle just steps away in the driveway.
“We know that she was in a wheelchair, and he had a hard time walking,” said Pat Simmons, who lives across the street.
It’s unclear if the couple’s size or disabilities played a role in firefighters being unable to remove them from the home in time.
Fire investigators are working to determine the exact cause of the fire. The surviving victim was taken to a local hospital with severe injuries.