TAMPA — Mikesha Shaw was sleeping on the couch by the window of her home at 207 W. 26th Ave. when she felt heat.
She had fallen asleep about five and a half hours earlier and was still groggy when she heard a vehicle horn blaring outside and people yelling. It was about 5 a.m. Friday.
“I looked up and saw flames,” said Shaw.
The front of the house was engulfed, she said, so she got up and raced around looking for her children and boyfriend.
Frantic because she could not find her son, Edward Jones, 14, she looked in her 17-year-old daughter Edquanesha Jones’ room. Finding the children there, she grabbed them and rushed out the back door, along with her boyfriend, Edward Edwards.
“We got out but my dogs were inside, so my boyfriend ran back in,” said Shaw.
Edwards, she said, was able to get the two Shih Tzus - Bam Bam and Snowy - and carry them to safety.
But not without paying a price.
“His back was all burned up,” Shaw said.
Shaw said if it were not for the blaring of the horn, which neighbors say came from a newspaper delivery truck, “we never would have made it out.”
Tampa firefighters responded to a call just before 5 a.m. at 207 W. 26th Ave. and found heavy smoke and flames coming from the front of the home.
The fire was extinguished in about 30 minutes, officials say. A preliminary investigation indicates the fire began on the porch, though investigators do not yet know what started the blaze. Damage was estimated at $35,000.
Hours later, surveying the scene, Shaw was in shock.
The house was a complete loss, charred inside and out. The heat was so intense that a Chevrolet Impala parked out front was a burned-out hulk, its plastic interior and even the metal outside, melted.
Shaw said that earlier in the week, the house had been hit by lightning.
She said she had come home from work Thursday night at a nearby Checker’s restaurant, and after washing her uniform, put it into the dryer.
“I heard kind of a sizzling noise,” she said. “I thought, Lord, I need a new dryer.”
Falling asleep on the couch at about 11:30 p.m., she slept until she felt the heat and heard the horn.
“We lost everything,” she said. “The Red Cross is going to put us up for a few days, but I don’t know what we are going to do after that.”