Florida News

Friday, August 23, 2019

Florida firefighters says firehouse destroyed by Hurricane Michael now a life or death issue

Dominick and Alicia Rhodes have had blue tarps covering the roof of their Florida home and a firetruck in their front yard since Hurricane Michael devastated their rural inland county 10 months ago. The couple — who have three kids, maintain two full-time jobs and work as volunteer firefighters in their spare time — are now caretakers of one of the Mossy Pond Volunteer Fire Department fire engines because the firehouse where they once stored their trucks and equipment was obliterated by the storm. The three other fire engines and two brush trucks that service this part of the county, a rural area of about 14,500 people a little more than 40 miles inland from Panama City, Florida, rest in other volunteers' yards. Most of the eight members of the all-volunteer fire department balance full-time jobs and families. The lack of a firehouse complicates how they coordinate responding to medical calls, car accidents and wildfires in a part of Calhoun County where the closest ambulance and hospital is a 25-minutes away.
NBC News

Massive search for firefighters lost at sea suspended; rescuers only had 1 clue in 6 days

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for two firefighters missing since Aug. 16 when they sailed out for a fishing trip from Port Canaveral. The suspension began at sundown Thursday, according to Capt. Mark Vlaun, commander of the Coast Guard Sector in Jacksonville. The massive search for friends Justin Walker and Brian McCluney, two off-duty firefighters, lasted six full days and covered over 105,000 miles when Coast Guard officials made the decision. McCluney, a firefighter with Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, grew up in Cocoa. Walker, a firefighter in Fairfax County, Virginia, grew up in Vero Beach. “We have reached a point where our computer modeling and our ability to search a given location are no longer allowing us to search with any reasonable degree of probability of success,” Vlaun said. He said time and the Gulf Stream current were working against rescuers as they searched an area the size of the state of Colorado.

One man killed, another injured in crash on SR 200 in Marion County

One man was killed and another injured in a three-vehicle crash on Southwest State Road 200 Friday morning. The Florida Highway Patrol did not release the name of the deceased, pending notification of family members. Troopers on scene said a car was eastbound on SR 200 about three miles from the Citrus County line. Meanwhile, Ford F-150 pickup and a GMC sport utility vehicle were westbound. For an unknown reason, the car veered left and into the westbound lane, troopers said. It sideswiped the SUV, causing the driving, a woman, to lose control of the vehicle. It overturned. The car continued into the westbound lane, where it struck the pickup, which rolled over onto the passenger side. Troopers said the driver of the car, identified initially only as a man, was killed. The man driving the pickup was taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center in serious condition. The driver of the SUV and her male passenger had minor injuries, troopers said. Marion County firefighters on scene said they were dispatched at 5:58 a.m. and arrived at 6:04 a.m.
Ocala Star Banner

Walton County Fire Rescue unveils new heavy rescue truck

Walton County Fire Rescue has a new tool to respond to emergencies. They unveiled their new heavy rescue truck. It's the first one ever in Walton County. Officials say they are glad to finally have this, and at a low cost to taxpayers. Fire Chief Russell Beaty says this is important to have as Walton County continues to grow. "We're seeing an increase in the number and the severity of automobile accidents and so that was a large force in this thing," said Beaty. The chief also says this truck will help firefighters fight fires longer, as well as respond to high-speed and multiple vehicle accidents.
WJHG-TV News Channel 7

Man hurt in motorcycle crash thanks Jacksonville firefighters who helped save his life

A man seriously injured in a motorcycle crash reunited months later with the Jacksonville firefighters who helped save his life. On Thursday, Joshua Davis got to personally thank the Rescue 43 crew for its quick response, which trauma surgeons said he wouldn't have survived without. Davis was riding his motorcycle on Normandy Boulevard near Bicentennial Drive about 10:30 a.m. May 27 when the crash happened. Davis, 29, was seriously injured. He spent 45 days in critical care and had nearly 15 surgeries. He was wearing a helmet, but still had a lot of brain bruising, so he has no memory of the crash. He said he can't remember anything from about four days before the crash until after he got out of the intensive care unit.
WJXT-TV CBS 4 Jacksonville

Follow Up: Wife praises husband for saving 7 kids from Seminole County fire

A Seminole County woman is calling her husband a hero after their family was able to escape a fire that destroyed their home. The fire happened on Tuesday before 7 a.m. at a mobile home on Alma Drive. 7 children, 3 adults hospitalized after Seminole County mobile home catches fire High school student makes shooting threat through group text message, police say The contractor hopes new improvements will help prevent flooding on I-4 in Longwood The couple has 10 children together in a blended family ranging from a month old to 18 years old. Seven of them were inside the home when it caught fire. Nicole Torres had just dropped off two of the children at school before pulling back up to her home five minutes later and finding it on fire. She said her husband had just laid down when he woke up to find his kitchen in flames. "He was screaming 'fire, fire' running from room to room trying to get all of our children out." Her husband had injuries to his arms, feet, and shoulders from searching inside the home to get all the children out.
WFTV-TV ABC 9 Orlando

Thursday, August 22, 2019

One dead after fire at Naples condo complex

A woman died after a condo caught on fire in Collier County on Wednesday afternoon. The fire burned at the Blue Heron condo complex in Naples, prompting a large response from the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, the Naples Fire-Rescue Department, the North Collier Fire Rescue District, and Collier County EMS. A Crime Scene Unit van showed up to the scene as well. The Collier County Sheriff's Office confirmed that a death investigation is underway. Fire officials said the woman and a cat were pulled from a third-floor unit. The woman was given immediate emergency medical care and then transported to the hospital. As for the cat, it’s with animal services. The fire department was able to put off the fire before it spread to the entire building. “Per state fire marshal, the cause is listed as accidental. I don’t have any additional details that I can release,” Kingman Schuldt, Greater Naples Fire Rescue chief, said in a statement.
WBBH-TV NBC 2 Fort Myers

Search for missing firefighters continues: ’Time has become our enemy’

The search for two missing firefighters will continue Thursday morning, but both JFRD and U.S. Coast Guard warns that time is not on their side. "We're in some critical times right now," Interim Director/Fire Chief Keith Powers said Wednesday during a 6 p.m. news briefing. "Time has really become our enemy." Powers said Thursday's search will focus as far north as the South Carolina area. Thursday will mark the seventh day of searching for JFRD firefighter Brian McCluney and his friend, Fairfax, Va. firefighter Justin Walker. The two disappeared Friday after they were last spotted near Port Canaveral for a fishing trip. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun says the agency will continue to search throughout the night, but also says Thursday could mark a serious turning point in the investigation.
WTLV 12 NBC & WJXX 25 ABC - First Coast News

Two dogs die in NE Ocala house fire

Ocala firefighters responded to a house fire at 420 NE 15th Court Wednesday evening in which two dogs were killed. OFR officials on the scene said the first unit arrived at 7:12 p.m. The home was 50% involved in the flames. Firefighters began immediately to battle the blaze and quickly had it under control. They were told someone might be trapped inside and immediately began a search and rescue operation. They did not find anyone. However, firefighters did find two dogs, which were brought outside. They tried to resuscitate the dogs but could not. Two of the people who lived there — Jaymen Rago and his girlfriend, Athena O’Donnell — said the home is a rental property and they were in the process of moving out. They were not there when the fire started, they said, but were on their way back to get more of their things.
Ocala Star-Banner

Mid Florida Lakes Community boasts emergency response team

For those living in retirement communities it can become more difficult each year knowing that if an emergency came up, you’d be able to handle it, whether that’s medical or one of Florida’s major hurricanes. At Mid Florida Lakes, a 55-plus community nestled neatly between Eustis and Leesburg on County Road 44, retirees are resting easy knowing their neighbors are watching their backs. “My wife is ill, and I’m out all day working,” Pat Golden, the general manager of the park, said. “Even if I am on the property, knowing that they’re there is a big help.” The Mid-Florida Lakes Emergency Response Team, a 40-person group dedicated to education, preparation, and first aid, has become known by the community and park management as “the help before help arrives,” according to a few residents and some members of the team.
Leesburg Daily Commercial

All SB lanes of Turnpike back open in suburban Boca Raton after HAZMAT spill

A flat bed truck rollover on the Florida Turnpike caused a chemical to spill onto the highway Thursday morning and led to major traffic delays. The Florida Highway Patrol said the wreck happened in the southbound lanes at mile marker 78, just north of Yamato Road in suburban Boca Raton. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said HAZMAT crews responded after a large barrel from the truck rolled onto the highway and spilled a pressure cleaning chemical onto the Turnpike. All southbound lanes were closed for part of the morning on Thursday, but FHP said they all reopened around 11 a.m.
WPTV-TV NBC 5 West Palm Beach

Cat blamed for Port St. Lucie house fire

A family of seven is without a place to live as of Tuesday evening. Fire officials received a call of a house fire at 6:45 p.m. According to reports, the fire started in a back bedroom where a candle had been lit. The family told firefighters that one of their cats could have knocked over the candle, causing a mattress to catch on fire. Now, this family is without its belongings and without a home. No one was hurt; however, the home is not livable. The children range from high school age to 5years old. Relative Theresa Rust said the family is in need of help. "His daughter's room burnt down. Her school clothes, her backpack -- everything is gone. They just put food into their home," Rust said.
WPBF-TV ABC 25 West Palm Beach

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