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Date of Issue: April 02, 2008

Fire damages duplex, no injuries

Damage from fire Sunday evening to the lanai at 202B Haverkos in Holmes Beach was extensive. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy
Neighbors, families and firefighters console each other after the fire is extinguished at a duplex on Haverkos Court in Holmes Beach.

An accidental fire on Sunday, March 30, damaged a Holmes Beach duplex, but the occupants escaped safely.

West Manatee Fire Rescue District officials estimated damages at about $40,000 at the duplex in the 200 block of Haverkos Court, said Capt. Tom Sousa, the public information officer for WMFR.

Emergency officials received the fire call at about 6:02 p.m. March 30. First responders arrived at 6:07 p.m. and saw flames and smoke coming from one of the apartments in the duplex owned by Jeanette Frint.

Eventually 22 personnel were dispatched to the scene, including emergency workers with WMFR, Longboat Key Fire, Manatee County Emergency Medical Services and Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach police departments. BBPD assisted with traffic on Gulf Drive, which closed for about 90 minutes.

Terry and Mike Cappello live in the east apartment. Terry was at home visiting with her sister when the fire began, apparently on the lanai of unit B. “We’d just gone inside and my husband, who was outside, came through the front door, yelling to us to get out. ‘There’s a fire in back,’ he said.”

Terry Cappello also said that at least three of her neighbors told her they called 911 while she reached a busy signal on three attempts.

In addition to the occupants who took flight for safety, several pets were evacuated from the structure. An EMS technician rescued a cat from under a bed and WMFR administered oxygen to two rescued English bulldogs in the west unit. Their owners were absent when the fire broke out, and on arrival at the scene, took their pets to an emergency veterinary hospital in Sarasota.

The Cappello’s Labrador retriever was also treated by firefighters with oxygen and “snapped” right up, said Deputy Fire Marshal Kurt Lathrop, who also heads up the district’s arson dog program.

A neighbor told officials she heard a “boom” and saw flames.

Lathrop said the fire, brought under control by 6:35 p.m., was determined to be accidental. The damage was primarily on the lanai. Just a few loose ends remained in the investigation, he said early March 31.

The Cappellos were told by Lathrop to collect enough clothing and needs for at least two weeks. He said their apartment would be thoroughly checked for any electrical problems and some repairs would be required before they could return.

The Cappellos were planning to stay at Terry Cappellos’ daughter’s house in Bradenton. Her daughter is presently out of town, so it’s “convenient,” she said.

The Cappellos had family at the scene, including Terry’s mother, Barbara Parkman, ready to assist them.

WMFR boarded the units for safekeeping and planned to return to continue the investigation.

Frint, the owner of the duplex and a neighbor, was at the scene and said she will consult with a contractor and her insurance company as to how she can proceed to expedite the repairs.

Frint also had family members at the scene to assist her, including Brian Schulz, owner of the former Brian’s Sunnyside Up Cafe in Holmes Beach, and his wife and daughter.