Body found inside New Port Richey home that burned down

Posted at 6:28 PM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-12 10:50:03-04

Pasco County Fire Rescue says it has found a body inside the New Port Richey home that burned down.

Crews from Pasco County and New Port Richey were battling a two-alarm house fire in New Port Richey with one occupant still unaccounted for inside. 

Pasco Fire Rescue describes what they were doing Wednesday as “methodical.”

They’ve been working all day trying to find out what caused a house fire on Leisure Lane in New Port Richey.

They’ve also been trying to find the remains of 58-year-old Cherie Hansen.

Daniel Datema said he’s devastated at the loss of his best friend’s wife.

She was believed to be inside this home when it burned to the ground Tuesday.

Three others who lived on the first floor escaped.

But the second floor where Cherie lived, collapsed.

“We know. I know. Bruce knows. She was there. 15 minutes (we were gone). She was there when we left,” said Datema.

Pasco Fire rescue crews brought out pieces of this home, belongings, and piles of ashes.

They describe the property as a hoarder house, making the work take longer.

They’ve even found tires inside the home.

A forensics tech climbed the top of the ladder to get shots from above. 

It’s all in an effort to find Cherie.

 Her husband of 8-years, Bruce, told us about the moments just before he left.

“I said goodbye to my wife. Run to the store, the pharmacy. I be right back. I blew her a kiss. Went to the pharmacy across the street, the pharmacy across the street. I looked over my shoulder and saw the smoke,” he said.

“She was a really outgoing, joking, nice character. She could find something to laugh about in anything, I was great. I loved her. She was awesome,” said Datema.

Pasco County Fire Rescue and New Port Richey Fire Rescue are working the fire at 5540 Leisure Lane and said one woman was trapped inside on the second floor.

“I just want to know what happened, if she got out or not, it doesn't seem that way," said homeowner Bruce Hansen. 

Hansen tells ABC Action News, he left his house to go to the pharmacy around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. Within minutes, people who live below him in the two-story house called him frantically. 

"The two people that live downstairs, they picked up but I could not hear anybody, it was just a bunch of commotion," Hansen said. 

Flames were piercing through the roof when firefighters arrived. Chief Shawn Whited says the second floor crumbled under the pressure, forcing several fire fighters to evacuate the structure. 

“You could hear it in their voices on the radio, he’s telling them that someone’s in there and they want to go in but the fire was just too intense," Whited said. 

Crews spent much of the night digging and sifting through debris, some using chainsaws to get back inside the house. 

“For the last 25 years that I have lived here there has not been a fire hydrant on this block and that could have possibly saved her life," said Eric Hansen, Cherie's stepson. 

Fire investigators will be on scene overnight trying to figure out the fire's cause. ABC Action News has learned, it likely started on the second floor. 

As of 10:30 p.m., Chief Whited said the woman who was trapped during the fire has not been accounted for.