By Katie Demeria
An occupant of a trailer at the North Fork Campground and Resort in Front Royal was just able to escape the vehicle late Monday before it was destroyed by fire.
Warren County Fire and Rescue crews were called to the scene on Homestead Drive at 11:16 p.m., according to Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico.
Chad Walden, 25, of Tanne, Ala., was sleeping in the camper-style trailer at the time of the fire, Maiatico said.
"He was awoken to a thick black smoke in the trailer, was able to exit, and realized the trailer was on fire, at which time he ran to a neighboring trailer and had them call 911," Maiatico said.
Several small explosions followed, he said, which were a result of the fire reaching nearby propane tanks, as well as some ammunition that was being stored in the trailer, according to Maiatico.
"Not only did it consume the trailer, it spread to a neighboring vehicle, which was also a total loss," he said.
Crews were able to control the blaze within five minutes of arrival, he added.
Though Walden was able to make it out in time, a dog that had been in the trailer perished as a result of the flames.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Maiatico said it appears to have been accidental.
Walden is a construction worker, currently working at the Front Royal power plant, Maiatico said. Trailers had been set up to provide temporary housing for the workers as they finish their jobs.
"That's pretty common for construction work like that," Maiatico said.
The incident has spurred Warren County Fire and Rescue officials to work with the North Fork Campground and Resort staff to ensure that all trailers are equipped with working smoke alarms.
The trailer Walden occupied did not have a smoke alarm.
"This was a fortunate case because the occupant was actually able to wake up," Maiatico said. "He is very lucky today to be alive."
Maiatico said it is vital that all recreational vehicles providing temporary housing -- whether it be for a significant amount of time or just a weekend -- have a working smoke alarm and fire extinguisher.
"In these trailers, because of the construction and the materials used, it's not like a typical family dwelling," Maiatico said. "You have increased flame spread in vehicles like this, and the plastic and PVCs produce toxic smoke."
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or email@example.com