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Fire destroys Escambia County home
ESCAMBIA COUNTY - A fire was caught on video tearing through an Escambia County home Sunday morning. Authorities say no one was hurt, but they say deputies have responded to the house several times in the past on drug-related calls. A man who'd been staying at the house suspects it was no accident.
The home is considered a total loss. It was gutted by the flames, which left behind charred brick walls and burnt, soggy debris.
Firefighters were called around 8:30 a.m. to the burning home near the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Esperanto Drive.
The house crackles as fire rages out-of-control in cell phone video shot by a neighbor across the street.
"I was devastated. I didn't know it was this bad," said Bonnie Helton, who owns the house but hadn't been living there.
"It's totally gutted," Helton said, "There's nothing in there! Nothing!"
Helton says she moved out last summer and that her grown children, two sons and a daughter, had been staying in the home ever since with no electricity.
"I didn't want to live with them. I didn't have any choice," Helton said, "They would not leave, so I left! I don't live here so I don't know what goes on here. I know he's (Damon Williams) not on drugs, but the other one probably is."
Damon Williams, Helton's older son, says he recently moved out but had stayed the night after retrieving a few belongings.
"A friend and my brother were here and they were kinda arguin' and they both left," Williams said, "And I come out to see what was goin' on and I noticed a glow in the garage, like a bright red glow on the door."
Williams says he and some neighbors tried to fight the flames with buckets of water and the garden hose before firefighters arrived. He says he doesn't know how the fire started.
"I hate to say it, but it doesn't seem accidental to me," Williams said.
For now, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.