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Fire displaces family of seven

By Alex Bridges

A house fire forced a family of seven from their Warren County home late Wednesday night.

The blaze that began in the kitchen destroyed the family's home at 5011 Browntown Road. The Top of Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross came to the family's aid to help members find temporary shelter, according to information from the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

Department Chief Richard Mabie said Thursday that no one was hurt in the fire. Three adults and four children were in the house at the time of the fire, Mabie said. The family was renting the home.

The fire gutted the kitchen and the living room while bedrooms and other areas of the home sustained severe heat and smoke damage, Mabie said. The chief said it likely is a total loss.

"In my opinion, I don't see any way where they're going to be able to repair it," Mabie said.

The Red Cross put the family in a local hotel for up to three days, Raymond Watson, the chapter's disaster relief program manager, said Thursday. The family also received money for food and clothing, Watson said. The family does not appear to have relatives in the area with whom they can stay, he added.

During the three days the family can stay in the hotel, Red Cross workers will advise them to make contact with agencies such as the Department of Social Services to receive additional aid, Watson said.

Crews responded to the call for a residential structure fire just before 11:30 p.m. Crews with the Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department arrived about four minutes after receiving the call. Firefighters saw flames coming from the windows and front door of the single-story, wood-frame home. Once an occupant told firefighters that all people inside the home were out, responders went through the front door to attack the blaze. Firefighters extinguished the fire and brought it under control in 15 minutes.

Officials determined that the fire started in a pan of grease on the kitchen stove. Flames spread from the stove to other areas of the house. Officials identified the cause of the fire as unattended cooking.

In the event a fire starts on the stove, Mabie suggested putting a top on the pan to snuff out the flames. However, a fire extinguisher works best in these situations because a person can stand back from the flames, Mabie said.

Seven fire and rescue companies worked the incident. All units left the scene by 1:30 a.m.

The Red Cross chapter has been busy in recent weeks helping victims of house fires. The Wednesday night fire marks the third in a couple of weeks that prompted the need for the chapter's services, Watson said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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