Tragedy struck a FishHawk family Saturday as they were seeking a final summer respite in Key West before the start of the new school year.
The home of Pamela Lynn and Gregory Noto and their three children caught fire Saturday afternoon, Aug. 4, killing all but one of their family pets and damaging the family's home and belongings.
As of press time, there was no official word from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue on the cause of the fire. However, Pamela Lynn Noto wrote on Facebook that the fire may have been electrical.
Although the Notos weren't at home, Noto's mother had been house sitting and was able to save the family dog but not the other family pets.
Among those responding to the Notos with offers to help was John Watson of FishHawk Ranch, whose home on Kiteridge Drive was destroyed by fire in December 2011.
"The next few days are going to be a whirlwind for the family," said Watson. "To ease the burden, meals ready to be eaten with drinks will help. Feed the body nourish the soul."
Watson said the family also will need help cleaning up as well as assistance finding a place to stay while the damage to the home is repaired.
"The family will better be able to let us all know when they get home and assess (their needs)," said Watson. "Once tomorrow comes, they can direct us from there. I know prayers were a huge help for us."
Already, neighbors are offering donations of furniture, school supplies and clothing.
Among those offering assistance is Jessica Schweitzer, a FishHawk Ranch resident and owner of Servepro of South Tampa, an emergency water and fire restoration company.
"We're here waiting, hoping we can help," said Schweitzer. "This is a homeowner's nightmare and we feel terrible."
"It is a tragedy for all of us when something like this happens to our neighbors and our friends," commented Nicole Bjorklund Wolny. "I hope we will all pull together and help this selfless family out in a difficult time."
Pamela Lynn Noto expressed her gratitude via Facebook.
"This might sound silly, but I am OK with our house burning down. It is only material and can be and will be replaced. I was able to get my dad's ashes and most of our pics. My family is safe," she said. "But we are devastated over the loss of our pets. I didn't think it would hurt so bad, but I think it was the way they died and how wonderful they were that has us so distraught."