98-year-old escapes mobile home fire with her dog

Image 1 of 3

Fire and arson investigators are trying to find out how a devastating fire started in 98-year-old Vera Collett’s home in Bithlo, Florida.

“It took me seven years to put everything back in the same place, so I can find it,” Collett sobbed, as she walked through what used to be her house.

Outside, she picked up the fire-damaged remains of an expensive teddy bear.

“I left you alone, didn't I?” she asked the stuffed animal, rhetorically.

The flames tore through her house late Tuesday night. Collett, who's legally blind, says the smell woke her.

“I start smelling something, I have a very good smelling nose, you know?” she said.

The smell was coming from her spare bedroom. When she opened the door she saw the bed was on fire.

“The flames came out from the bed, about that high!” she said.

“Our first arriving units saw heavy fire coming out of the back side of the single-wide mobile home,” said Orange County Fire Rescue Spokesman Mike Jachles.

Firefighters also rescued her dog, Oreo, from the house.

“He crawled under the table and wouldn't come out,” Collett said, “I said, 'Let's go! Let's go! The fire! The fire! And he just scared under the table.”

Now, Collett is left picking up the pieces, but says she's got living left to do.

“You have to want to live, you gotta have that feeling inside. That's really crazy. I'm still waiting for my prince to come, you know?”

The Red Cross is helping Collett out. She says eventually she'll be moving in with a friend.