By Joe Beck
An early Thursday morning destroyed a one-story house at 467 Mash Lane near Edinburg.
John Collins, public information officer for the Shenandoah Department of Fire and Rescue, said Edinburg firefighters were called to the scene at 4:49 a.m. and used five trucks to carry and pump 10,000 gallons of water to contain the fire until it was out.
"When they got there, the entire house was ablaze," Collins said of the firefighters.
The owner of the house, Mark Stalbird, 52, said he and his wife, Ann, and daughter Kelly, 15, were lucky to have escaped.
Stalbird said he awakened at 4 a.m. to go to work when he noticed light flickering in a hallway.
"I went out to investigate," Stalbird said, "and saw that fire out on the front porch up against the house, and that's when I immediately woke my wife and told her to get the kids out of the house, and call the fire department.
"Then I went to the front of the house and and attempted to put it out with a garden hose."
But it was too late. Stalbird and his family could do nothing but watch as the fast-moving fire swept up the side of the house over the soffit and into the attic where it soon caved in the roof.
"We were all standing outside in shorts, no shoes," Stalbird said. "We didn't have time to do anything. If I had awakened at 4:05, we would have all been dead. It was a 10-minute fire."
The fire also destroyed a van and SUV, and damaged a third vehicle parked in the driveway.
Collins said he had no information on the cause of the fire, which was under investigation as of mid-Thursday morning.
The Red Cross and the Stalbird family members came to the scene to help in relocation efforts, Collins said.
Stablird said he and his family are living with his mother-in-law and will remain with her as they attempt to rebuild.
Stalbird said the biggest loss in the fire was a border collie, which he described as "my dear, dear friend."
"We're not materialistic people," Stalbird said. "Everything can be replaced. The hardest thing to deal with is the loss of the dog. Everything else, we don't care about."
Although the cause of the fire is still being determined, Collins said the arrival of colder weather means more people are starting to use wood stoves, space heaters and other devices to stay warm.
People should make sure their heat sources are in good working, have nothing flammable around them and provide fresh batteries for their smoke detectors, Collins said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org