Warren County responds to fires

Crews from Warren County Fire and Rescue responded to two fires in Front Royal early Sunday morning.

The first incident occurred at 339 Osage St. around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said that crews responded and “found moderate fire and smoke conditions” on the first floor of an unoccupied structure.

Maiatico said crews were able to “quickly extinguish” the flames and that damage from the fire is to be calculated.

The fire and what caused it are being investigated by the Fire Marshal’s office as well as the Front Royal Police Department.

“We have to do a few investigative follow-ups and proceed from there,” Maiatico said.

The second incident occurred at 2523 Harmoney Hollow Road. Dispatchers received the call from the house regarding the fire at 4:39 a.m. Sunday.

Warren County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Mabie described the building as “an old country farmhouse” that the resident had been renting for 20 years.

According to Mabie, clogging from creosote that had built up in the chimney caused the fire.

“He hadn’t had his chimney cleaned since last year, and so there was a considerable amount of creosote built into it,” Mabie said.

Madie added that the fire burned in the chimney, heated up the flue liner and “caught some of the structural components.”

In addition, Mabie explained that the construction of the house “allowed the fire to burn in the walls and up into the second floor.”

Mabie said the fire spread into a room where the occupant stored firewood, lawnmowers and chainsaws.

“It certainly added to the intensity of the fire, because of all of the fuel that was in that room,” Mabie said.

Once crews arrived on scene, Mabie said that they were able to get control of flames in less than 15 minutes.

“Crews were on scene for just short of two hours, checking for further extension in the walls … and spent a lot of time with what we call the overhaul,” Mabie said, adding, “We get pretty meticulous when you have an old house like this.”

Damage to the house has been estimated at around $80,000, and the house was declared uninhabitable.

“Experience tells me it is not likely that they will get it repaired,” he said, “Once you take an old house like that and repair it back to today’s standards, it’s not worth it.”

The home’s occupant opted to contact friends in the area for help and refused assistance from the Red Cross.

“In this case, the friend was also a coworker, so they were certainly there to help him,” Mabie said.

Since this is in the middle of the “winter fire season,” Mabie said that residents should get their chimneys and heating systems cleaned and checked.

“The three or four chimney fires that we have had extended into the house from the chimney,” Mabie said.

He noted that it is “not too late to get chimneys cleaned and inspected.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com