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90-year-old woman rescued after home explosion, fire at Tampa mobile home park

A neighbor who watched flames shoot into the air ran across the street to help.

TAMPA, Fla. — An unexpected explosion sent flames shooting into the sky at the Fountainview Estates Mobile Park Tuesday evening in Tampa.

"They were all on that side and it traveled really quick. It sounded like bombs going off basically," Michael Kanoza said. He and his wife watched as their neighbor's home caught on fire. A 90-year-old woman was still inside.

"I looked around and there was gray smoke coming up from behind the house. My husband who ran over there to check it out. I asked if I should call 911 and he just ran," Tia Van Zandt said.

Caridad Ijlesis was still inside while her son was in the yard. Kanoza told the son the house had caught on fire, they helped Ijelsis get out safely.

"I don't know what happened. My son just said, 'Mami get out the house is on fire! There's smoke coming out of the back,'" Ijelsis said.

Hillsborough County Fire says the fire started late in the afternoon. It spread from a shed to the back of the home. The gas meter caught on fire and exploded.

"It's essentially a blow torch or a gas-fired furnace is essentially what you're dealing with," Batallion Chief Jay O'Driscoll said.

It took crews hours to put this fire out. They had to shuttle in water because there isn't a fire hydrant near the back of the complex. It took three tankers to get the fire put out.

"If my house caught fire, they're gone and they're gone because there's no fire hydrants. I mean, come on, that's a serious issue. There's only one in the entire community," Van Zandt said.

While neighbors feel unsafe without more fire hydrants being available, Chief O'Driscoll says it's expected in an older community.

"We would love to have a fire hydrant every 300 to 400 feet, but this an older park," O'Driscoll said. 

"I've been doing this 30 years and when I was a rookie fire fighter this place was here long before me so to give you an indication. It's an expensive proposition to go back and plumb." 

While neighbors hug each other, grateful everyone is okay, they're asking Fountainview Estates to do more. We've reached out to the company that owns the property to see if more hydrants can be installed. This story will be updated once we receive a response. 

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