VIDEO/PHOTOS: Fire destroys home in East Naples

East Naples house destroyed by fire

— A home constructed using fragments of Collier County’s richest historical architecture is nothing but a pile of ash and rubble after a fire engulfed the home of a well-known East Naples man Sunday.

The fire, the cause of which is currently unknown, consumed the two-story, approximately 10,000-square-foot wood-framed home of Bobby Cadenhead along with almost all of his belongings.

“It’s all gone. All 40 years of hard work,” Cadenhead said. “I guess I’ll have to live another 40 years,” said the 66-year-old.

Smoldering debris surrounding several columns of brick were all that remained of the two-story home, which was a massive expansion of the 1898 home of Naples’ first mayor, Speed Menefee.

Menefee’s 17th Avenue South home was moved to 3145 Cherokee Street and expanded by the current owner, Cadenhead.

“It was one of a kind,” Cadenhead said circling his approximate 5-acre property as firefighters from all nine Collier County fire districts battled the blaze for hours.

The owner of Cadenhead Construction continually expanded his home using the best parts of high-end Naples homes and historical sites that he demolished.

“Well, it started out as a simple house, like one story, then it went into two stories, then it went left and right, and it just grew into a beautiful thing,” said Mary Tate, a neighbor and family friend.

That resort-like property became a thing of the past. Brick columns that once made up the Naples Train Depot were all that remained erect among the piles of debris surrounding a black-watered swimming pool. A broken chandelier layered with soot lay near the street as Cadenhead and the renter of the guest house, which was also destroyed, would need to find a different place to stay.

Cadenhead estimated his loss was about $2 million.

“It’s OK,” Cadenhead said, resting his hand on his sister’s shoulder as if to reassure her. Yet it was he who lost the home where he lived alone.

Cadenhead will be staying with one of his three sisters, Ivy Jean Nebus, Betty Jo Robertson or Judy Ann Blake, all of whom surrounded him as he watched his property disintegrate.

Cadenhead said he returned from a trip to the Home Depot to see a fire in his yard that had not yet begun to take his home.

Neighbor Roan Johnson estimated the fire started at 12:35 p.m.

“I heard a loud pop,” Johnson said. “I was watching TV and turned to look out the window and I saw smoke,” he said. “Then I came outside and I saw flames were shooting out the back of the house 30 feet high,” he exclaimed as he stood in front of his home that was spared any damage.

There were no reported injuries and the cause was not yet known, said East Naples Fire Rescue spokesman Greg Speers. It did not appear suspicious, but nothing is being concluded until the state fire marshal investigates, Speers said.

“This is one of the worst fires we’ve seen this year. It’s been a while since we had a fire with this much damage, this hard to control,” Speers said.

The only exception was a recent death, but he said this was the worst in terms of property loss.

A shortage of water, with the nearest fire hydrant located on U.S. 41 East and requiring 2,500 feet of hose, was the greatest hurdle in battling the blaze. Firefighters continued to fight the fire until about 5 p.m. and stayed to maintain control later into the evening.

Cadenhead said he wasn’t confident that fire officials did all that could be done to save his home.

His sisters agreed that water from the nearby creek seemed to be a missed opportunity.

“I know they (firefighters) are working hard. I’m just having a hard time understanding why they didn’t bring the type of truck to pump water out of the creek,” said Robertson as she stood in front of her family’s ever-shrinking estate.

Golden Gate Fire Chief Bob Metzger said he understood the frustration.

“I get it. It’s a legitimate concern,” Metzger said. However, he said, the creek was about 40 feet from the fire and generally officials would only draft water within 20 feet of a fire.

Cadenhead didn’t suffer the only losses. His guest house, which was rented, was also destroyed along with its contents. The man who lived there couldn’t immediately be contacted. Red Cross may help by providing a place to stay, Speers said.

Several smaller structures, including at least one shed, were also damaged or destroyed. At least two neighboring homes sustained significant damage, Speers said. The total cost wasn’t immediately known.

Several firefighters received treatment on the scene for heat-related medical issues, officials said. It could not be confirmed if a pet was injured or killed in the blaze.

Some said not all that was damaged can be replaced or repaired, not even by Cadenhead, who they proclaimed is an expert in construction.

“He has lost memorabilia from his father. That’s not replaceable,” said Tate.

Staff writer Tauren Dyson contributed to this story.

Posted earlier

A fire destroyed a large home in East Naples Sunday and may claim more before firefighters have it under control, officials say.

Firefighters responded to a working house fire after noon in East Naples. The original fire was believed to be at a house in the 3400 block of Okeechobee, just off U.S. 41 East and near Bayshore Drive, officials said.

Two houses were destroyed, possibly three, said Greg Speers, East Naples fire spokesman.

"We've got people coming from every imaginable fire district," Speers said.

The fire was creating traffic tie-ups along U.S. 41 East and motorists were urged to avoid the area.

Smoke was visible from miles, seen from as far away as North Naples.

Continue to follow this story at naplesnews.com.

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