Two Key West couples were left temporarily homeless, and one couple was mourning the loss of two beloved pets, following a fire at a multi-unit residential building at 1210 South St., shortly before 9 a.m. Friday.
A woman living in the building's rear unit was just getting out of the shower when a Key West fireman appeared and hustled her from the apartment.
Her two cats also fled the blaze and are alive and well.
Fire Inspector Capt. Alan Averette said the fire started "on or around the propane stove" in the building's front unit, home to Chanelle Sipp and her boyfriend, Brian Everson.
Sipp was on her way to work, and Everson already at his job when both received word of the blaze. They rushed home to discover that firefighters had quickly extinguished the fire.
No major structural damage to the building was reported, but Averette speculated that the front unit will likely have to be gutted to become habitable once again, and the ceiling throughout the house will need to be replaced.
No one was injured, but Sipp and Everson's dog and cat were overcome by the smoke.
"Our firefighters attempted to resuscitate the animals using mouth-to-mouth, but unfortunately they were unsuccessful," said Key West fire Division Chief Mike Davila. "We tried really hard to keep them alive."
A second cat survived.
The smell of smoke was still in the air as friends and neighbors gathered in front of the house Friday to offer sympathy and support to Sipp and Everson, who were devastated by the loss of their pets, home, and belongings.
One woman on a bike stopped to hug the couple. The identity of the couple living in the rear unit is unknown.
Employees of the Red Cross were also on hand to offer assistance in the form of basic necessities.
"We're taking care of the food and clothing," said J.B. Hunt of the Red Cross. "We're also offering them a couple of housing options."
Janeen Glacer, also with Red Cross, arrived on the scene early and viewed the damage.
"The front apartment sustained most of the damage," said Glacer. "The front kitchen melted down. The rear is mostly just water damage."