Weekend fires affect Warren County residents

Two fires this past weekend in Warren County made the homes of area residents uninhabitable.

A chimney fire at 128 Bentonville Road in Warren County on Sunday afternoon forced the evacuation of two residents before firefighters were able to extinguish it.

Capt. Mark Fletcher of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services described the damage to the home as moderate to severe.

Fletcher said the fire was caused by decaying conditions in an old chimney that lacked a flue, a duct used to isolate smoke and gases from the rest of the structure.

“This was a fairly old chimney,” Fletcher said. “It was not lined. The chimney had gone bad and allowed smoke and heat to escape.”

Fletcher said firefighters were called to the scene at about 1:50 p.m. after a report of a house filling up with smoke. They arrived to find an exterior wall that had caught fire on the first floor and spread to the second floor, Fletcher said.

He added that firefighters had to remove drywall from the wall and ceiling on the first and second floors before bringing the fire under control.

“We had smoke conditions throughout the attic as well,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the fire was discovered by the homeowner, who reported it to the county’s dispatch center.

“It’s going to quite expensive for the homeowner to move back in,” Fletcher said. “They’ll probably be displaced for a few days, at least, depending on what the insurance company comes up with.”

No one was injured.

Responders also fought a Saturday morning fire at 75 Stonegate in Front Royal that left a family of 10 homeless.

According to Derek Mabie, Warren County Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief, the homeowner woke up at around 5 a.m. and “thought she smelled smoke inside of the house.”

Around 6 or 6:15 a.m., Mabie said, the house’s smoke detector went off which led to the family discovering the fire and immediately contacting fire and rescue.

Mabie said that crews were on the scene for about three hours total.
“We arrived at about 6:30 a.m. and … had the fire under control within an hour.”

The fire, Mabie said, was caused by “a malfunction of their woodstove … some ashes dropped behind the stove in a void spot.”

Mabie described the incident as an uncommon “nuisance fire.”

“When we arrived, we had smoke conditions on the first floor … we could see the fire in the hearth of the fireplace and the woodstove area,” Mabie said.

Upon investigating the basement area, Mabie said they discovered that the fire was in the wall and ceiling space.

“After that, it became like a chess match to see how far it had actually burnt in the walls,” Mabie said.

Crews were able to confine the fire to just the interior wall to keep it from spreading into other areas of the house, including the roof space.

“A majority of the damage was done by fire, but they caught it in time before it actually breached the roof system,” Mabie said.

Despite the damage, Mabie said that the family will “absolutely” be able to remodel and fix the house.

“The only reason we told them that they should not live there was because of the damage in between the basement floor and the first floor,” Mabie said, adding, “You just don’t want to take the chance of someone falling through the floor.”

He also said that the Red Cross had been contacted and that the family refused, stating “that they had family in the area they could rely on.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com