By Joe Beck
FRONT ROYAL -- A fire heavily damaged a house at 662 Eagle Drive on Monday night and forced a couple to flee from the structure as it burned.
Firefighters from Warren County Fire and Rescue Services managed to bring the fire under control about 20 minutes after they arrived at the scene before 7 p.m., according to Fire Chief Richard Mabie.
Mabie said flames were shooting out of three windows on the upstairs of the home and one window downstairs before firefighters began working to contain it. He said the cause of the fire was undetermined and under investigation as of 8 p.m. Mabie said the second floor was gutted, and heat and smoke severely damaged the first floor.
The owner of house, Mark Snyder, said it was built in 1946 over the foundation of a pre-Civil War structure that served as a field hospital during that conflict. The house is located on a remote one-lane road near the bank of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.
Snyder, 50, said he and his girlfriend, Cheryl Toney, noticed trouble while they were sitting on the back porch of the house Monday night.
"We were on the back porch and heard a pop, and I said, 'what was that?'" Snyder said.
Snyder said he scrambled up a flight a stairs where he first saw smoke filling the air.
"I saw smoke and said, 'let's get out," he said, adding that flames were immediately visible after he and Toney escaped to the outside.
Snyder said he has lived in the house since 1998. He said he and Toney planned to spend the night at a hotel.
Mabie said crews from Warren County Fire Companies 2, 1 and 8 and tanker
trucks 4, 9, and 10 responded to the fire.