TAMPA — A mobile home fire that killed a 4-year-old girl Friday night in Ruskin appears to have been accidental, an investigator with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said.
“We think we ruled out any aspect of this being anything other than an accidental fire,” said David Tucker, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue lead fire investigator.
The case remains under investigation and fire officials plan to interview family members living at the mobile home, but fire investigators have completed reviewing physical evidence at the scene, Tucker said. Fire officials said none of the homes at Wolfs Mobile Home Park had smoke alarms.
Alejandra Carmona died in the fire at the mobile home park, which is just north of College Avenue. In a preliminary report, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Alejandra died from smoke inhalation, Tucker said.
Along with Alejandra Carmona, her father, Monico Carmona, his two younger children, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s son were in the mobile home at the time of the 11 p.m. fire.
The fire started in the west bedroom, which was shared by Carmona and his girlfriend. Alejandra’s body was recovered in the east bedroom, Tucker said.
Carmona told investigators he and his girlfriend had lit candles Friday night in the bedroom to celebrate Valentine’s Day but that they had extinguished the candles hours before the fire started.
Fire investigators have worked the scene but haven’t found remnants of candles at the side of the bed where the fire originated, Tucker said.
“We cannot conclusively say that a candle started the fire,” Tucker said.
On Monday, fire officials went to the Ruskin mobile home park and installed nine smoke alarms in four mobile homes. Some of the residents weren’t home when fire officials went to the scene on Monday. None of the 13 mobile homes in the park had smoke alarms before fire rescue began to install them on Monday, Tucker said.
“The recommendation is to have a smoke detector,” Tucker said. “We know from data that you’re twice as likely to survive and escape a fire if you have working smoke alarms.”
In July, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue inspected the property for fire truck access and hydrants and there were no code violations, Tucker said. However, fire officials aren’t allowed to go into the mobile homes to verify if smoke detectors are installed and operational, he said.