Space heater fire destroys Zephyrhills family's home

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After a fire tore through a Pasco County home, firefighters are warning people about the potential dangers of space heaters.

The Zephyrhills family lost nearly everything but, despite the destruction, they’re thankful everyone made it out of the home safely, including multiple pets.

Fire investigators say it’s a scenario seen all too often when the temperatures drop.

Gina Garcia came home from work Wednesday morning to a very different scene than when she left.

“That was my bedroom. That was the bathroom,” she said, sifting through the rubble.

Everything she and her family have worked for was wiped away in minutes.

“It's pretty devastating,” Garcia said. “As far as people and animals, everything is OK, but we have nothing else. Our life was in there”

Pasco County Fire Rescue crews rushed to the home on Gator Lane in Zephyrhills around 9:30 a.m. Flames had already spread to most of the rooms.

 “The folks home at the time who witnessed the fire tried to put it out with a fire extinguisher and they were unable to, so they evacuated the home,” Pasco County Fire Rescue’s Corey Dierdorff said.

Fire investigators determined a small space heater was either near or touching a bed, causing the fire.

“These things, they happen fast and so we definitely cannot recommend having those space heaters on overnight,” Dierdorff said.

Pasco Fire Rescue said never use an extension cord to power a space heater because they can overheat and catch fire, as well.

“I said, ‘You'd better get the space heater out. It's going to get cold. It's going to be in the 30s and 40s.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I better go get it,’” Garcia recalled.  “So when they told me, that's the first thing I thought, it had to be that space heater.”

Among the charred pieces of the home, broken glass, and melted roof, was a sign of hope: The family’s nativity scene survived the fire.

A friend dropped off a camper as temporary housing for the family. The Red Cross is helping with other essentials.

Wrapped in a blanket and in the arms of family members, they vowed to help rebuild.

“I think I really haven't consumed it all yet. We've got to rebuild everything,” Garcia said.

This time of year, when temperatures go down, firefighters prepare for a spike in fires caused by home heating equipment.