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Date of Issue: November 22, 2007

Fire damages Anna Maria duplex

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Residents of an apartment in the 300 block of North Shore Drive in Anna Maria talk with Deputy Fire Marshal Kurt Lathrop outside their home, which they evacuated after they noticed smoke at about 10 p.m. Nov. 16. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
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West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters cut into the chimney of a duplex in the 300 block of North Shore Drive in Anna Maria Friday night.

Residents carrying two infants fled an Anna Maria duplex as it filled with smoke from a smoldering fire in the wall Nov. 16.

The fire in the 300 block of North Shore Drive officially remained under investigation by Deputy Fire Marshal Kurt Lathrop. However, officials on the scene Friday night suspected a chimney became hot, igniting wood studs in the building.

“We had a fire in the fireplace,” said apartment resident Jackie Logan. “And then smoke started coming into the garage. We don’t know what it was, but there was smoke everywhere.”

Logan, her two children, ages 5 months and 19 months, and several others evacuated the apartment, turned off the electrical power to the building and called 911 shortly before 10 p.m.

The occupants of the second apartment also fled, though the fire did not spread to that space.

The occupants of the two apartments stood on North Shore Drive in the red glare of emergency lights, watching gray smoke rise from the roof.

A fan was utilized by firefighters to push the smoke out and firefighters soaked the hot structure with foam that bubbled on the ground and ran down the chimney.

West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters, with assistance from Longboat Key firefighters, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services responded to the emergency call.

Four fire trucks, an ambulance and several support vehicles lined the street and MCSO patrol cars directed traffic at the North Shore Drive intersections with Sycamore and Elm.

More than a dozen firefighters worked at the site. Some climbed ladders outside the residence to cut into the chimney, while firefighters inside the apartment cut through walls and surveyed the attic and garage.

WMFR Chief Andy Price said firefighters needed to completely check the structure to be sure the fire was fully extinguished. “Better to make sure now than come back at 3 a.m.,” he said.

The lights and smoke drew neighbors from blocks away. On the cool night, several people offered to bring warm clothing for the duplex’s residents and others asked if temporary lodging was needed for anyone, but Lathrop said the displaced residents would be staying with relatives.