Fireworks blamed for Key Royale house fire

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Neighbors on Hampshire Lane watch as WMFR tackles a fire that broke out in a garage shortly after 6 p.m. June 1 in Holmes Beach. No one was hurt, but the home had approximately $300K in damages. For story, see page 2. Islander Photo: Courtesy Sgt. Mike Pilato/HBPD

Fireworks may have been the cause of a house fire June 1 that left Chris and Kellie Galati’s home blackened and smoky at the end of Hampshire Lane.

At about 6:20 p.m. June 1, neighbors reported a loud noise — similar to fireworks, according to a report by Holmes Beach Police Officer Joel Pierce — and smoke coming from the garage at 628 Hampshire Lane, owned by Chris and Kellie Galati. The Galatis are partners in Galati Marine-Galati Yacht Sales in Anna Maria.

Karen Mitchell and her husband Scott, vacationing from Germany at 626 Hampshire Lane, reported the fire, according to Pierce.

Karen Mitchell told Pierce they “heard a loud noise, possibly fireworks,” and when they looked outside, they “noticed the garage door open and smoke coming from the front, left side of the garage.”

Another vacationer, Steffin Zens, arrived, entered the house and rescued a small dog before the fire grew in size.

Pierce reported West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters were at the home when he arrived. He also reported the homeowners returned and helped direct the crew to a second dog in the house. Both pets were unharmed.

The fire was extinguished in about 15 minutes with a crew of 16 firefighters responding on four engines, according to WMFR fire marshal Jim Davis.

Chris Galati Jr., the couple’s 20-year-old-son, informed Pierce that he was in the garage earlier in the day and had attempted to set off a bottle rocket that failed to ignite.

He soon left to go boating, Galati Jr. told the HBPD, leaving the garage door open. Galati Jr. said the fireworks may have ignited after he left, triggering the blaze in the garage.

Davis said wind blowing into the garage, where flammable materials were stored, fed the flames.

No injuries were reported, although the fire left the garage blackened, climbed into the attic and burned areas of the roof. Smoke traveled inside through the home’s ventilation system.

Damage was estimated at close to or more than $300,000, Davis said.

Davis said the family will “have some rebuilding to do” before the house is habitable.

He also said the investigation will continue.

Davis noted that the proper way to dispose of a firework that fails to ignite is to drop it into water.

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