LAKE PLACID — Several fire departments and first responders were called to the scene of a house engulfed in flames at 106 Robinson St. in Highway Park about 3:30 a.m. Friday. The family made it out of the home with no injuries.
The small house was a total loss as the fire tore through the wood frame. Highlands County Public Safety Director Chief Marc Bashoor said he was not sure what alerted the residents to the fire but the man got his wife and children, one of which was an infant, out of the burning house safely.
“I really salute the renter,” Bashoor said. “I have been to many fires at that time in the morning that have had a far worse outcome.”
The fire was so hot that the houses to the left and right of the destroyed structure also sustained damage.
“The house to the left sustained significant damage to the outside of it,” Bashoor said. “There was also some burning inside the house. The house to the right also had some damage to the outside, but it was not as bad as the other.”
An electrical overload caused by a space heater plugged into an extension cord was blamed for the fire.
“We tell people never to do that,” Bashoor said. “Space heaters should only be plugged directly into the wall. Extension cords are just not rated for the kind of amperage they pull down.”
Other tips Bashoor shared when using space heaters are to maintain a three-foot clearance between it and anything combustible like bedding. Make sure to shut the unit(s) off before leaving the home.
Highlands County Emergency Medical Services was on scene for potential fire victims but stayed to perform “rehab on scene” for the first responders. Bashoor said they have implemented a program where EMS is providing basic care such as blood pressure and vital signs on first responders after an emergency has passed.
“That is especially helpful when the weather is cold outside,” Bashoor said. “Most people aren’t used to that. Especially when you’re wet and cold.”
Also on the scene were Highway Park Estates, Lake Placid, Placid Lakes, Sun N Lakes and Leisure Lakes volunteer fire departments. Highlands County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene.
The American Red Cross was called in to assist the family, authorities said.
Lake Country Elementary has requested help for the children affected by the fire, two of whom are students. The following is a list of items needed. Items can be dropped off at 516 County Road 29 in Lake Placid during school hours.
Age 9 girl: shirts size small in girls, pants size 8 regular, sock/shoes size 3; age 10 boy: shirts size 10/12, pants size 14 regular tall and thin; newborn girl: Pampers size newborn, baby wipes, newborn size clothing, hand mittens/socks/hats, blankets/burp cloths; age 5 boy: shirt size 5T, pants size 6T, socks/shoes size 3.