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Squirrel May Be To Blame For Destructive House Fire

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- A squirrel may to be blame for an intense fire gutted a home in Altamonte Springs early Thursday morning. The homeowner told WFTV he heard noises in his attic before the fire started and said he believes a squirrel was responsible.

The fire at the home on Jay Drive sparked several explosions because there was $30,000 worth of guns and ammunition inside. The homeowner made it out of the home, but Thursday afternoon he said the fire has not only cost him his home, but also his livelihood.

A fire marshal detective declared the cause accidental. But fire crews had a fierce battle on their hands even before the ammunition inside started going off.

Huge flames devoured the single-story house in a 40-year-old subdivision called Goldie Manor. Neighbors said they were awakened by explosions of black gun powder and thousands of rounds of ammunition firing off.

"Like fireworks you know, 'pppppp pop!'" said one neighbor.

The sharp pops kept Cindy Smith and her son away from the home and hoping the homeowner got out.

"I was worried about the safety of the neighbors. And you know, when explosions like that are happening, how far theyíre going to go," said Smith.

The homeowner, Kevin Von Lenken, said he kept $30,000in guns and ammo inside. He told Channel 9 heís a private firearms safety instructor and some of his best guns are ruined.

He said he barely made it out because his front door has been sealed shut for years, after being damaged in hurricane Charley, which left his home with a rear and side door.

"The sliding glass door was so hot I couldnít get out of the house. That was before there was any smoke in the house," said Von Lenken.

Neighbors said Von Lenken is the kind of man who never socializes and has posted no trespassing and other warnings signs all over his property, and when they heard the explosions and pops, they didnít know what was next.

"Do I leave, do I get out, and is it going to explode? A million things were running through my mind," said neighbor Megan Reid.

Fire crews were able to keep the damage to Von Lenkenís property. He told WFTV that heís not insured and thinks heíll live out of his van while he gets his life back together.


Florida is full of wildlife, including snakes, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, Birds and more. You will need professional snake removal or raccoon control and perform full repairs and prevention to keep them out for good.

We perform the repairs and decontamination if necessary. Rats and mice love to live in attics, and can chew wires or leave droppings. In fact wildlife frequently enter homes, and it takes a professional wildlife management company to remove them. Humane Wildlife Solutions.

Providing humane, efficient wildlife removal of unwanted guests such as groundhogs, raccoons, opossums, skunks, squirrels, flying squirrels, bats, mice, snakes, muskrats, rabbits, beavers, coyotes, foxes, ducks, geese, pigeons, seagulls, woodpeckers, feral cats, deer, turtles, and other wildlife.