The sound of a news helicopter hovering over head broke the silence of the now smoldering aftermath of a house fire that has left one local family devastated earlier this month.

Just moments prior, more than two dozen firefighters, four water tankers, four fire engines, an aerial truck, a brush truck and an air supply truck were at the scene, battling the flames, which have completely engulfed the home on 5432 Turkey Creek Road near Valrico, closing Turkey Creek Road between State Road 60 and Butler Road., during rush hour traffic.

Fire investigators do not know how the fire started but, according to a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue incident report and some eye witnesses, flames erupted at about 3:15 a.m., at the older, 5 bedroom frame home, owned by 72- year-old Genevieve D’Alessio, and occupied by her daughters grandchildren including a newborn.

Besides the fact that there was no one home at the time of the fire and every one was accounted for there was not much else to be thankful for. “The girls have lost everything,” D’Alessio said.

Searching for words while staring at the scourged destruction D’Alessio lamented, “This home has withstood strong storms and hurricanes but than a fire takes it all away.”

According to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue receives more than 84,000 calls annually.

According to Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross spokeswoman Janet McGuire, the chapter is concentrating on meeting the family’s emergency needs.“We will take care of their immediate needs at first, like food, shelter and clothing, and then their long-term needs for as long as it is necessary,” she said.

Nationwide the American Red Cross handles about 70,000 disaster cases per year, but McGuire said the majority of them are single-family fires.“We have handled about 200 such disasters in the bay area this year,” she said.

D’Alessio said the family is really in need of pretty much everything as the fire left nothing to be able to salvage. Anyone who would like to offer help or assistance may contact D’Alessio at 505-7062. For more information about the American Red Cross please visit

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