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Date of Issue: June 09, 2005

Fire guts Anna Maria home, pets destroyed
Anna Maria Fire
Anna Maria fire
West Manatee Fire and Rescue District firefighters battled a fire last Saturday morning at a duplex on Sycamore Street in Anna Maria that resulted in the death of several dogs and cats trapped in the fire upstairs. No one was home at the time of the fire. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
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A fire Saturday morning at a duplex at 208 Sycamore St. in Anna Maria resulted in about $200,000 in damages to the property and the loss of five dogs and three cats trapped upstairs in the blaze. No one was injured in the fire, but West Manatee Fire & Rescue District firefighter Ryan Moore was taken to Blake Medical Center for heat exhaustion where he was treated and released.

Capt. Ernie Cave of WMFR said units were dispatched at 9:26 a.m. after neighbors reported the fire.

The fire apparently started in an upstairs electrical outlet, Cave said, and spread quickly. The occupants of the unit were not home at the time, but firefighters were able to save a number of other pets that were in the downstairs unit, including rabbits, guinea pigs and land turtles.

Cave said the upstairs unit, and possibly the entire structure, is likely a total loss.

The occupants were Warren and Jennifer Radcliff, son and daughter-in-law of owner Patricia Radcliff of Lakeland.

Five units were dispatched to the fire, including one truck from Longboat Key and another from the Bradenton Fire Department, Cave said.

According to Manatee County property records, the wood-frame house was originally built in the 1920s, with some remodeling in 1994.

Devastating loss

"We've lost virtually everything we own," said Jennifer Radcliff as she stood in front of what's left of her and husband Warren's residence at 208 Sycamore St. in Anna Maria. A fire Saturday morning wiped out the top floor on their two-story duplex, killing five dogs and three cats the couple had as pets, along with a number of other animals and reptiles the couple raised.

"Unfortunately, we lived on the top floor," said Jennifer Radcliff. "All our personal items are gone."

She also had several marine aquariums full of tropical fish which were on the ground floor. Those were saved along with some pet turtles and rabbits, and the fish have been given to Mote Marine Aquarium.

The house and contents were insured, said Warren Radcliff, but he did not have any information on the amount of coverage. "We're still waiting for the adjuster to show up. We're hopeful we can get some living expenses."

The couple were in DeLand Saturday when the fire broke out.

"It's very strange," Radcliff said. The fire "apparently" started at an electrical connection, but everything was off at the time, he said.

"We don't know what happened. That's just what the fire department said as the ‘unofficial' cause. They're still investigating."

In the meantime, the couple are trying to figure out where they will live and how they will survive.

"We'll get through this," Warren Radcliff said. "But it hurts to lose our pets. They were like family."

He said friends are establishing a trust fund at an Island bank for donations to help the couple.