Instead of writing a citation, code enforcement team helps veteran move back into home damaged by fire 

Jerry Wooten and his wife have been staying with relatives ever since their Brandon home caught fire last year. 

"I had some propane tanks in my shed and when the shed next door caught fire, it set the fence on fire and set my shed on fire where the propane was," explained the Air Force veteran.

The fire spread to his attic before it was contained and put out. Wooten says the water damage was the worst part and though the walls were still standing, the home was unlivable.

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement received a complaint about the house, which had severe damage and was now vacant. Instead of writing Wooten a ticket or citation, code enforcement helped him move back in. 

It was done through a program called Operation Code Vet, which allows the county to help veterans with code violations.

Operation Code Vet partners with area non-profits to get veterans moved back into their residences as soon as possible. They are replacing the roof, dealing with the electrical, plumbing, framing and other issues.

The team, which is made up of many volunteers including several from code enforcement, is rebuilding basically everything but the walls -- and the Wootens couldn’t be more grateful.

"How do you say 'thank you' after you say 'thank you, thank you, thank you?'" he asked. "It’s wonderful!"

Hillsborough County Code Enforcement says volunteers are still needed to help finish plumbing, drywall, and windows. For information on how to help, email

MORE GOOD NEWS: Download the free FOX 13 News app for more #WeLiveHere stories like this