By Katie Demeria
Wind made it difficult for Shenandoah County crews to tackle fires throughout the county Sunday, including one that destroyed a residence in Woodstock.
According to Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue officials, crews were called to the 363 Fairview Circle scene at 3:11 p.m.
Fire Marshal David Ferguson said the residence's occupant left home shortly before a neighbor stopped by, opened the front door, and noticed black smoke.
Ferguson added that everything points to the fire being accidental. The occupant had problems with the stove, he said, though the actual cause has not been fully determined.
A Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue press release stated that "When firefighters arrived, fire was in the attic. Early on, they entered the house and tried to attack the fire from the inside but had to back out and fight the fire from outside."
One dog and one cat perished in the fire, Ferguson added, and another cat was saved from the flames.
"There was one room untouched in the basement," he said. "And once fire crews made sure the house was stable enough to enter, they went in and found it down there."
The first unit arrived on scene at 3:24 p.m. and crews did not clear the incident until 12:06 a.m.
The house was a total loss. Ferguson estimated the damage to be around $280,000, without including the contents inside the residence.
Ferguson said the owner, Robert Wilkes, was not home at the time of the incident. According to Chris Scott, executive director of the American Red Cross Top of Virginia chapter, the Red Cross is providing assistance to the residence's single occupant.
The wind was a big influence on firefighters' efforts to control the blaze, Ferguson said.
"Gusts probably got up to 20 or 25 mph," he said. "It's up on a hill, too, which made a huge difference. Wind was definitely a factor."
According to the release, Shenandoah County crews responded to two other fires Sunday afternoon as well, including an outdoor blaze south of Orkney Springs.
Deputy Training Officer Bill Streett responded to a shed fire at 154 Turkey Knob Road near Quicksburg, as well.
"It was mostly consumed by the time the fire department arrived, so it became more of an effort to stop the spread into the adjacent field," he said.
Streett said the wind made fighting the flames difficult as well.
"The prevailing wind we had out of the west took it right in the direction of the forest areas that were nearby," he said.
Streett said New Market Fire and Rescue, Mount Jackson Fire and Rescue and Timberville Fire Department also responded to the scene.
According to the release, Woodstock Fire Department, Toms Brook Fire Department and Edinburg Fire Department responded to the Woodstock house fire.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org