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Blaze at Largo apartment building injures woman, kills her 2 dogs

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Published:   |   Updated: December 27, 2013 at 09:56 PM

LARGO — Anthony Pellegrino was playing a video game at about 12:30 a.m. Friday when he heard someone say, “Help me,” and then a crash. He thought it was a fight.

But then he looked out his second-story window at Bay Pointe apartments and saw, at the other end of a swimming pool, a woman crying and flames flickering on the other side of her first-floor bedroom window.

Pellegrino, a 44-year-old restaurant server, burst outside, broke the plastic shielding of a small fire extinguisher on the outside wall, and ran over to extinguish the growing blaze, or at least stop it from spreading.

He wasn’t alone, Pellegrino said. Two other men grabbed fire extinguishers and joined the effort.

In the end, however, it would take 38 firefighters from four cities about one hour to bring under control the blaze in the eight-unit building at 2770 Roosevelt Blvd., said Michael Handoga, the training chief at Largo Fire Rescue.

The woman Pellegrino saw crying, who authorities did not identify, was taken to an area hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, Handoga said. Her two small dogs, however, did not survive, authorities said.

The fire started in the woman’s bedroom, though the cause has not been determined, Handoga said. It is not believed to be suspicious.

“I heard her screaming,” said Richard Dinsdale, 29, a student at Pinellas Technical Education Centers who lives in the next building. “She was saying, ‘My dogs, my dogs.’”

Though fire damage was limited to two apartments — the woman’s and the one above hers — all eight in the building were deemed uninhabitable. Management found accommodations within the complex for all those displaced, authorities said.

Late Friday morning, Kurt Ressler, 43, who works at a Macy’s human resources call center, and whose apartment is next to the woman’s, said he was put up in a demo apartment overnight and is waiting to be moved into a regular one.

“The management at the complex has actually been fantastic making sure things are taken care of,” he said.

sthompson@tampatrib.com. (727) 215-6504.

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