VALRICO, Fla. (FOX 13) - Hillsborough County firefighters have a message for the residents they serve: Possessions can be replaced, but your life cannot.
They rescued a Valrico woman who ran inside her burning home to get medications she left behind.
She's now recovering from smoke inhalation, but it could have been worse. Hillsborough County firefighters said they had only a couple of minutes to get through the front door of the house on Highgate Drive Monday night.
When the fire started, the woman, her husband, and their dog escaped, but she went back inside for medication.
“You couldn’t see anything and as soon as you walked outside, you could see the orange glow through the fog and all that,” said neighbor Morgan Schneider. “My father watched her walk back in, and him and a few other people were screaming don’t go in there.”
Firefighters got there just in time, with the roof collapsing and the fire quickly spreading.
“As they got inside, they were able to see through the thermal imager. They could hear her screams when they first got inside,” said Chief Jason Dougherty of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. “Eventually the screams stopped, but they were able to see her on the thermal imager.”
Firefighters found her in a back bedroom, where she had collapsed on the floor.
“There is nothing material of value more important than human life,” said Chief Dennis Jones of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.
Firefighters say she was lucky and are stressing for families to get out and stay out.
“It rarely works well if you go back into a burning building, and take it from me, it rarely works well,” Jones said.
Firefighters said every family needs an escape plan and you should practice it twice a year. They are still looking into what started Monday’s fire.