One found dead in Polk County fire

MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) — One person was found dead after fire tore through a home in Imperial Lakes area of Polk County early Monday morning.

Polk County Fire Rescue crews responded to 5400 Water Oak Ct. in Mulberry around 2:50 a.m. finding the home was fully involved and fire visible through the roof.

Firefighters attempted to search the bedrooms, but conditions got too dangerous to be inside and the commander ordered all crews to exit the home. Once it was safe to go inside, a victim was found deceased in the living room of the home.

It’s a sinking feeling for neighbors, knowing the woman in the house needed help. Neighbors suspect the woman couldn’t get out in time because she was wheelchair-bound.

“We just feel really bad for her. What a way to go. It’s a shame,” said neighbor Kathy Gericke. “Its heartbreaking, just totally heartbreaking. She wasn’t known by a lot of the neighbors because she’s kept to herself for a number of years but it’s scary when it’s that close to home.”

It was scary for firefighters too. When they got to the house fire was already coming through the roof. The conditions got too bad inside and even the fire crew was ordered to get out.

“This morning I went and looked at the back and it’s just totally destroyed,” said Gericke.

Life won’t be the same on this cul-de-sac for a while after this tragedy but everyone in the neighborhood will remember the great lady who lived here.

“A really sweet lady. Her husband passed away in 2013 and she lived alone. But she was a very sweet lady,” said Gericke.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. It remains under investigation. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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