Fire

Man found dead in burning Altoona home Saturday

ALTOONA, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a man was found dead in a burning home Saturday afternoon.

LCSO and Lake County Fire Rescue responded to 20332 Wood Duck Road, Altoona around 1 p.m. on reports the home was on fire. LCFR removed a deceased male from the home, and authorities found he had an apparent gunshot wound, according to LCSO Lt. John Herrell.

The man, identified as Michael Gall, 49, lived at the home and detectives are conducting a death investigation, Herrell said; no other information was released.

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Eustis family trying to rebuild their lives after loss of home and dog to devastating fire

EUSTIS, Fla.—A Eustis family is trying to rebuild their lives after losing their home and beloved dog to a devastating fire around midnight Monday.

Amanda and Joe Mitchem and their son, Joey, 16, were able to escape the blaze, but lost everything they owned and their pup “Bitty Dog,” in the fire. Their daughter, Joni, 18, did not live at the home but was storing most of her belongings there, Amanda told Inside Lake.  The Mitchem family does not have insurance.

 

Joe and Amanda heard their breaker box making a “buzzing” sound late Sunday night and when Joe opened the box to inspect it, “It burst into flames,” Amanda said.

Joe used two fire extinguishers in an attempt to put out the fire at the mobile home on Old Chisholm Trail, but they were no match for the blaze. Authorities confirmed to the Mitchem family it was an electrical fire that started in the breaker box, she said.

The Mitchem family.

Losing “Bitty Dog” has left the family heartbroken. They adopted him when he was just 6 weeks old and he was part of the Mitchem family for more than five years, “He was our everything!” Amanda said. Joe desperately tried to save the pup, running into the fire three times to rescue him and severely burning his hands, Amanda said.

The Mitchems are currently staying with family while they try to rebuild their lives and move forward. Since the family did not have insurance, they have to replace everything they lost on their own. They have started a fundraising campaign to help with expenses; to donate to the Mitchem family, click here.

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