By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STAR TANNERY -- A couple narrowly escaped a destructive house fire in southwest Frederick County early Tuesday morning.
Fire officials say the blaze should remind homeowners to make sure their smoke alarms work properly. The alarm in the home at 289 Richard Lane near Mountain Falls did not have a battery, according to Jay Bauserman, fire marshal for the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Department.
"They were lucky to wake up," Bauserman said of the two occupants who fled the burning house in time.
Dispatchers received a call for the structure fire in the 200 block of Richard Lane at approximately 3 a.m. A couple staying in the residence awoke in the early morning hours to find fire and smoke, Bauserman said. A fire started in fireplace in anticipation of the cold temperatures over night had at some point escaped the chimney and spread into the walls, according to Bauserman.
The couple evacuated with their pet dogs and went to find help. The first of several crews arrived to find the two-story home "well involved" by fire and smoke, according to Bauserman. Firefighters attacked the blaze from the outside as flames consumed the house.
The fire official deemed the house a total loss. Neither occupants nor firefighters reported injuries, according to Bauserman.
The couple declined assistance from local American Red Cross workers because they received aid from family, Bauserman said.
Crews from Star Tannery, Middletown, North Mountain, Round Hill, Gainesboro and Gore volunteer fire and rescue companies responded to the incident along with firefighters from Strasburg in Shenandoah County and Capon Springs, Hampshire County, W.Va.
The last crew cleared the scene at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to a dispatcher.
Jimmy D. Miller, who owns the house with his sister, Alyce V. Face, came to the property later that day to assess the damage. The siblings had inherited the property and the house was close to 100 years old, Miller told the Daily. Miller said he let a man stay in the house a few months ago but the boarder was out of the state when the fire occurred.
Instead, the man's daughter and her boyfriend were staying at the house, according to Miller, citing what the boarder had told him. Miller did not know the names of the woman and her boyfriend.