RIVERVIEW — More than two hours after a house fire took the life of an elderly woman and sent a man to the hospital in critical condition, a lone smoke detector in the home continued to sound the alarm.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is working with the state Fire Marshal and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to determine the cause of the blaze, which apparently started in the front bedroom of the house at 7811 Alafia Drive. By the time firefighters found 77-year-old Carol Williams on the floor, she was dead.
The same crew found her husband, Richard Williams, 81, unconscious near the back of the home, which was filled with heavy smoke. Depending on the type of smoke involved in a fire like this, someone can be overcome quickly, said Fire-Rescue Spokesman Chip Shields.
Three fire engines arrived in this somewhat rural neighborhood east of Providence Road and south of Bloomingdale Avenue minutes after a neighbor smelled smoke shortly before 7:30 a.m., Shields said. The neighbor saw a haze around the house and called 911.
As one crew quickly extinguished the flames, a search crew found Carol William’s body. Moments later, they found the Richard Williams. He was transported to a nearby field, then air-lifted to Tampa General Hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation.
A neighbor said the Williams had lived in this oak-draped neighborhood for about 30 years.
At this point, Sheilds said, the fire is being considered accidental, but the investigation continues.
There were no reports of injuries to other civilians or fire rescue personnel.
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