Fire destroys Frederick County home

Firefighters check the roof of this Frederick County home destroyed by fire on Monday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily
Tracy Lemley gets a hug from her son Justin Orndoff, 27, of Winchester, following a fire that destroyed her home on Monday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily
A firefighter sprays water on the collapsed roof of this home on White Oak Road east of Stephens City following a Monday afternoon fire. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY — A house is a total loss after fire swept through it Monday afternoon.

At around 1 p.m. Monday, a fire broke out at the home of Tracy Lemley at 396 White Oak Road. Rocky Stern, a passerby and volunteer at the Rouss Volunteer Fire Department in Winchester, reported the fire at about 1:20 p.m. and ran over to the house to verify if anybody was home.

“Flames were coming out the side windows to the house and I did a 50-yard dash to bang on the windows to see if anybody was in there,” Stern said. “There was a pickup truck parked behind it and I was afraid with all that gasoline in it.”

Lemley was at work at Stowe Woodward in Middletown when the fire broke out. She said she received the call about the fire and rushed home. She said she lived alone and responders were able to save her cat, which was inside at the time of the fire.

Within minutes of crews arriving, the roof collapsed when fire spread to it, said incident commander William Bowmaster. He said crews had to fight the fire for 20 minutes from outside of the 1,500-square-foot house before being able to enter to put out flare-up spots and salvage Lemley’s personal belongings. The bulk of the fire was extinguished in 35 minutes, but crews remained on the scene until 4 p.m. to contain flare ups.

Frederick County Fire Marshall John Bauserman stated in a news release after the incident that “the fire started due to a deterioration of the chimney assembly” and damage estimates were not available. Bowmaster said the house was a “total loss.”

Red Cross assistance was offered to Lemley, although “it was not needed.”

Six companies from Frederick County, Clarke County and Winchester responded to the scene and an additional two were called due to staffing shortages, Bowmaster said. These units included Stephens City, Middletown, Round Hill, Clear Brook, Rouss and Boyce. Traffic control near the scene was conducted by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or

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