DADE CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A 62-year-old man, a 5-year-old boy, and nine dogs died after a Pasco County house fire Friday night.
Family identify that man as Donald Maeir. He was home at the time with his grandson Zayden and granddaughter Alani.
The home on Darby Road in Dade City caught fire around 10 p.m. Friday. Firefighters arrived on scene, saw heavy smoke showing and immediately started search and rescue efforts.
Firefighters said they found Donald in the home in less than two minutes. The crew removed him from the house and started working on saving him. While administrating first aid, neighbors alerted firefighters that there were still two children inside.
Firefighters returned to the home and found the children, 5-year-old Zayden and 3-year-old Alani, who were flown to Tampa General Hospital.
Pasco Fire Rescue said the Zayden and Donald died in the hospital. The girl is still in critical condition.
The fire has been put out and Pasco County fire investigators are at the scene looking into the cause of the fire.
Neighbors say Donald lived in his home for more than 20 years. He lived there with his teen son, his daughter, and her two children.
“I’m sure it’s devastating on Emily, because she not only lost her father, but she lost one of her kids. It’s just really heartbreaking,” says Donald’s neighbor Brandi Warner.
Still fighting for her life, little Alani remains in the hospital. Her family says the young single mother, pregnant with her third, will face even tougher days ahead. The family has created a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, medical bills, and starting over.
This story will be updated.
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