Although the oppressive heat conditions and proliferation of mosquitoes seem to be the prevalent news topics in the wake of Tropical Storms Beryl and Debby during the early days of this month, there is still one other event that guarantees prompt media attention: a hotel fire. The interest in the aforementioned is primarily driven by an assumption that the cause may be affiliated with Meth Lab activity and, as such, even the most benign hotel fire will garner a multitude of inquests...replacing heat and mosquitoes in the hierarchy of news priorities. Monday, 9 July, was a day delivering another example of a routine hotel fire generating a lot of media interest as firefighters were summoned to the Red Roof Inn in the 14000 block of Duval Road West just before noon. The report of heavy black smoke pouring forth from Room 216 was affirmed by the first arriving crew from Engine 16, but within less than 10 minutes the fire was subdued and virtually all additionally dispatched units were returned to service. Command quickly verified the cause as a faulty in-room A/C unit that had the misfortune of a blanket being left directly on top of the device. No injuries were reported, and the over $8,000 in damages were singularly confined to the room of origin: to the disappointment of some local media outlets, a room without Meth Lab activity.
Just before 9 AM Thursday, 26 July, units were dispatched to the report of a single family, single story structure fire in the 5100 block of Timuquana Road. Engines 25 and 23 confirmed heavy smoke from the back area of the home upon arriving, with the added information of an adult male still located inside creating even more urgency for the first responders. Within minutes, the first assembled firefighters had located the white, middle-aged male in a rear bedroom during the primary search, successfully removing him from an assured fatal encounter with the deadly environment that had surrounded him. Following the patient's transport to Baptist in stable condition and with the fire extinguished in no time at all, Command could now begin the task of assessing the incident's aftermath. With an adult female and 6 children, ages 3 through 10, residing in the severely damaged home, the necessity for summoning the Red Cross for assistance was certainly a pellucid conclusion. Although the initial investigation into the cause of the fire revealed a putative account of children playing with a lighter, the evidentiary components were too vague to substantiate the claim thus resulting in a request for the involvement of the State Fire Marshal's Office.