Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Cause of house fire still unknown

KEY LARGO -- What sparked the blaze that destroyed two homes last week near mile marker 103, bayside, was still unknown to investigators Monday.

The fire started April 28 at 716 Garden State Lane around 1:45 p.m. and quickly engulfed a two-story home.

According to fire officials, heat from the blaze destroyed a neighboring trailer and damaged several others. The vacant house where the fire began is owned by Maria Anita Higuearas-Castro.

Monroe County Fire Chief Jim Callahan says a state fire investigator from the mainland isn't yet sure how the fire started. Callahan also couldn't say whether arson has been ruled out, though he added that such a finding often comes much sooner.

"Usually I know by now if it is [arson]," Callahan said.

Heavy equipment was expected to be brought down to assist with the investigation, he added.

A Key Largo man who performs construction work said he had just completed a concrete job at the home the day before the fire. He said he believed interior work was also being done at the home.

The blaze was about 2,000 feet from a fire hydrant and special equipment was needed to pull water out of the canal to fight the fire.

Key Largo Fire Chief Sergio Garcia said it was difficult to get enough water pressure in the fire lines to attack the blaze. He said a lack of manpower and water availability contributed to the second home burning.

Though the mutual aid from Miami-Dade was appreciated, Garcia said the fire was already under control by local crews, which also included personnel and equipment from Ocean Reef, Tavernier and Islamorada.

"It was a valiant effort," Key Largo Volunteer Fire-Rescue Department President Frank Conklin said.

Steve Powers, owner of Sea Tow Key Largo, helped battle the blaze from the canal with his boat's water cannon.

jgore@keysnews.com

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