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'We don't know what happened': Sarasota couple loses home in fire

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Posted at 10:28 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 08:44:29-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — A Sarasota couple said they were startled by an early morning phone call saying their entire house was engulfed in flames.

It was the sheriff's office on the other line.

Last week, Andrea Verier and her husband, Scott, lost their house. Flames swept through every room of the home.

The couple moved to Sarasota from Melbourne about five years ago.

The couple first called the Sarasota County Fire Department the night before after they smelled smoke.

"I just went like a dog around the house, sniffing, and I found an area where I smelled very, very strong smell of burning," said Andrea.

The couple suspected maybe lightning struck their home causing it to smell of smoke, but an official cause has not been determined.

A spokesperson for the Sarasota County Fire Department said crews responded around 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 30. Crews said they discovered no fire and cleared the scene around two hours later.

"They said you shouldn’t sleep here cause there’s particles in the air, the insulation, any residual smoke can you go stay somewhere else? We said, yeah," said Andrea.

The couple stayed with other family members in Sarasota.

The Sarasota County Fire Department was called back to the home on Rain Forest Trail for a fire around 1 a.m. on Friday.

"We come into the neighborhood and the flames were sky-high out of the roof of our house," recalled Andrea.

Neighbors took cell phone video that showed the home engulfed in flames. One neighbor was terrified thinking Andrea and her husband were still inside the home.

"He woke up to see flames out his window so he hopped our eight-foot fence thinking we’re in there. He's pounding on doors and throwing buckets of water. Neighbors have told us this and then somebody said they’re not in there," said Andrea.

Firefighters worked more than two hours to put out the fire. The couple lost everything inside their home.

They are grateful to be alive, but heartbroken they lost so many sentimental items including cassette tapes of Andrea's late father's voice.

 Verier couple
Andrea Verier and her husband Scott lost everything in a house fire.

"Every family photograph. I made scrapbooks for my daughters that covered their whole lives. I always said, I’ll keep them at my house so nothing happens to them," said Andrea as she held back tears.

"I kept from every year of their school...report cards, little notes, drawings they made, some artwork we had framed of the children who are adults, obviously," she said. "Videos of our family from way back when, you know. I even had cassettes of my father's voice."

The couple was focused on retirement, but now they are trying to figure out how to rebuild their lives.

"We don't know what happened. To this moment, we don't know what happened. We just stayed out there and watched our house burn down," said Andrea.

One firefighter was injured battling the fire but has since been released from the hospital.

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire.

The community is collecting donations for the couple. For more information visit their GoFundMe.