Firefighter and nurse lose home to fire when power flickers on after Irma

(CBS North Carolina)


TAMPA, Fla. (WNCN/WFLA) — They got through Hurricane Irma just fine, only to have their house catch fire the next day.

A firefighter and a nurse who devote their lives to helping others now are getting help from the community.

Mike and Cheryl Rigau and their two daughters were not at their home on Carrollwood Drive during the fire.

“Taking the girls to my parents’ house to spend the night was probably the best decision of my life because that’s when the fire started that night,” said Cheryl.

Soon after the power got turned on the fire started in the kitchen.

Mike is a firefighter for the City of Tampa and was working when his neighbor called him to alert him about the fire.

David Tucker, lead investigator with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, says the cause is undetermined.

But, investigators focused on the electrical wiring in the kitchen and considered the fire could be related to the power being turned back on.

He estimated the damage at $85,000. Mike Rigau says the home was insured. He says his family will be able to move back in, but that could take a year or longer.

A neighbor saved one of the dogs, a firefighter saved another, and Mike rushed in to get the cat when he got home.

“You come running in, knowing you’re trained not to do that and you still go in unprotected trying to find your animals because it’s personal to you and you’ve gotta do it,” said Mike. “Knowing that you do respond and you’re trained to put fires out, we’re sitting here and realizing the aftermath where you’re not even there anymore and what people have to go through. it’s overwhelming.”

Their friends have started a GoFundMe page to help them.

“I don’t have the words to say how much that means to us because we’ve lost everything, but to say thank you. Thank you so much,” said Cheryl.

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