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Basye house fire: Rocks helped to alert victims


Neighbor walking dog threw stones at sliding-glass door, waking residents

By Joe Beck

A neighbor walking his dog around 3:30 a.m. Sunday played a major role in helping several people escape a burning house at 8312 Supinlick Ridge Road in Basye moments before flames swallowed it.

The neighbor, who did not give his name, said he and a man who had been staying at the house alerted others still in the house about the imminent danger as the fire quickly spread.

David Ferguson, fire marshal with the Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue, said Monday the cause of the fire remained under investigation. Three people suffered injuries requiring hospitalization at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

There was no official word on their status but the neighbor who helped them escape said none of their injuries appeared to be life threatening. He described one victim as suffering burned hands and the others showing the effects of smoke inhalation.

The fire destroyed the house within a matter of a few minutes, according to eyewitnesses. All that remained Monday was a deck with charred, collapsed remnants of the rest of the building on top.

Crews from Orkney Springs Fire and Rescue, Conicville Volunteer Fire Department, Mount Jackson Rescue and Fire Company, New Market Volunteer Fire and Rescue, EdinburgVolunteer Fire Company, Woodstock Volunteer Rescue Squad and the county's fire and rescue department saved a neighboring house from being ravaged by the fire, but not before vinyl siding melted on one side of the building.

The owner of the partially damaged home, Lee Owens of 8330 Supinlick Ridge Road, estimated damage at $4,000 to $5,000.

Owen said firefighters arriving at the scene made his home their first priority.

"They worked on my house first; the other house was gone," Owens said.
Owen and the other neighbor identified one of the occupants of the destroyed house as Travis Miller.

The neighbors said Miller was renting the house with two other roommates.

Owens's neighbor said he called 911 when he saw fire burning in the basement of the house while walking his dog. He said he then returned to help the others evacuate. He said several occupants were already out, but others had to be awakened as the fire intensified quickly.

He said he shouted and threw rocks against a sliding glass door on the upper floor to awaken those sleeping in a loft. After they emerged onto a balcony, one of the home's other occupants retrieved a ladder stored nearby and placed it alongside the balcony.
The people on the balcony made it down the ladder only a few moments before a fireball burst through the upstairs, he said.

"It just went up like a book of matches," he said of the house. "It just went whoosh. All that smoke inside turned into flames."

He said a dog and cat were lost in the fire.

The neighbor said he didn't want to give his name because he wasn't seeking public acclaim as a hero.

"I didn't do anything that anybody else wouldn't have done," he said.

Firefighters said a smoke alarm placed in the stairwell between the basement and first floor also helped awaken some of the sleeping occupants and saved their lives.

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


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