Officials release names of victims in fatal Sarasota fire

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of the victims in Wednesday’s fatal fire.

68-year-old Benjamin Langford and 68-year-old Cynthia Langford were killed when their home caught fire on Sugar Lane. Their son Ian survived and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The Sarasota County Fire Chief said on Wednesday afternoon, the home went up in flames in about five minutes. When firefighters arrived, they had no idea anyone was inside. Neighbors notified them that a family of three were in there. Officials and neighbors describe the family as morbidly obese. The home was also extremely cluttered.

Crews found Ian conscious in a back room, but they were unable to get him out through the door. So crews gave Ian an oxygen mask and broke down a wall.

Eight men had to carry Ian out to safety. Sadly, Benjamin and Cynthia died in the blaze. Fire crews have been on site around the clock. Even early Thursday morning, crews were still dousing the house.

“Because there was a great amount of content inside the house it really limited our efforts to get to the bottom seat of the fire,” said Battalion Chief John Elwood.

There were concerns that hot spots would emerge and reignite the blaze.

“When you have that much material in there, imagine like a compost pile, where you have a small amount of heat and because its compressed that heat is allowed to intensify and grow,” said Elwood.

Neighbors describe the Langford family as being very private.

“[Benjamin] was nice but he wanted to keep to himself. [Cynthia] was very obese and probably couldn’t get around these last few years,” described Liz Molbury.

She is in mourning.

“Very devastated and sad that it did happen. Nobody deserves this,” Molbury said.

But neighbors were aware of how cluttered the house was.

“I’m really not surprised. A lot of garbage was never put out for three people living there,” Molbury explained.

The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze. Neighbors described that a transformer had blown earlier in the day but it’s unclear at this time if the two events are connected.

An FPL spokesman released this statement:

“We are aware of a serious incident in Sarasota that is currently under investigation. We extend our sincere sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of those involved. We are cooperating with local authorities as they conduct their investigation of the incident.”

A spokesman for the State Fire Marshal says the investigation is still active and ongoing. The team determined the fire started on the rear lanai of the home, but they have yet to determine the exact cause.

At 10 a.m. Friday morning, firefighters and county officials will be canvassing the neighborhood, handing out smoke detectors.

 

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