At approximately 9:51 p.m. yesterday, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received reports of a structure fire at 10230 Brentlawn Street in Spring Hill. This occurred during the time when Hernando County Fire Rescue (HCFR) officials had already suspended response operations due to winds from Hurricane Irma.
Initial reports were that a power line had fallen on a home and was arcing. Additional reports then indicated that the home was on fire. The neighbor who reported the fire also stated that there were disabled persons in the home; one could be heard screaming for help. The location of the fire was near HCFR Station #12. Fire officials then decided, based on current weather conditions, the proximity of the fire to the fire station and the possibility of lives in danger, to respond with a modified number of responders to the call for help. Fire crews were directed to coordinate a rapid response for life safety measures only. This decision was made with the safety of firefighters as the primary concern. Once crews from Station 12 began responding, a fallen tree was blocking their response. HCFR then sent the next closest fire station to respond. The initial fire crew cleared the road of the trees and continued their response.
Upon arrival of the first arriving fire engine, they reported the house was fully involved. Fire crew performed a rapid search and rescue operation. High winds substantially intensified and extending the fire to the remaining structure. It was apparent to fire crews that the conditions in the home were untenable and chances of any survivors, if present, was minimal. Fire crews where then directed to withdraw from the structure. They were unable to confirm if there were any occupants inside. To ensure the safety of fire crews in the unsafe weather conditions, and seeing that there were no other structures in danger from the fire, the structure was allowed to continue to burn. Prior to leaving the scene, a relative informed fire crews that the occupants were able to escape the fire. The occupants sought shelter with a family member nearby. Fire crews proceeded to then rapidly return to the safety of the fire stations.
HCFR will return to the scene with the Florida Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations and local law enforcement when weather conditions allow a safe return. A thorough search and investigation into the origin and cause of the fire will then be initiated.
HCFR responded with 4 Fire Engines, 1 water tanker, 1 rescue and 2 Battalion chiefs with a total of 25 personnel. All firefighting personnel safely returned to their stations.
HCFR made this difficult decision to respond to this call, despite the significant and dangerous weather conditions. This action performed with fire services philosophy of risk a life to save a life and risk nothing to save nothing.
Further updates will be released as they become available.