Man loses everything in massive St. Augustine fire

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A large, early morning fire destroyed a St. Augustine home Sunday.

Lt. Pete Weiland with the St. Augustine Fire Department said no one was hurt in the blaze that charred a home on Osceola St. in the historic district of the Nation's Oldest City. Two people who were inside escaped safely.

Steve Roche and his wife Jennifer escaped the flames. However, their dog and cat were killed during the fire.

"In a split second, the entire dining room was filled with smoke," said Roche. "I couldn't see my hand in front of my face."

Roche says he could not see because the house was filled with smoke. He didn't know where he was in the house, until he felt his wife reach out to him.

"She grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door and absolutely saved my life," said Roche.

Crews with SAFD were backed up by firefighters from the St. Johns County Fire rescue. Firefighters were able to contain the flames in 15-20 minutes and completely extinguished the fire in 40 minutes, Weiland said. Neighbors said crews were working the fire for at least two hours.

Roche says he watched his house burn to the ground. He and his wife are artists and collectors of art. They say they've lived in the the house for more than 20 years. It is a house that neighbors say, looked like a museum.

"The only thing that the fireman brought out was a little ceramic pig...a little coin pig," said Roche.

The fire started just after 4 a.m. Sunday morning and the cause is under investigation.

Weiland said there was minor damage to a home nearby.

The home at 45 Osceola St. is considered a total loss.


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