Fire destroys High Knob home

A Monday night fire destroyed this home in the High Knob subdivision in Front Royal. Courtesy photo

A fire that occurred at 901 Windy Way of High Knob in Front Royal on Monday night destroyed a three-story home, causing $300,000 worth of damage.

The owners of the home, Thomas and Anne Lloyd, were out of state at the time of fire, according Warren County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Mabie.

The cause of the fire is now being investigated, as the Warren County Fire Marshal’s Office is working with the National Weather Service to investigate a possible lightning strike.

Mabie noted that the investigation is ongoing and still open, despite the focus on a possible lightning strike event.

Crews were dispatched to the scene at 9:47 p.m., and Mabie noted that they received “multiple 911 calls” from neighbors as well as a medical unit that was in the area.

The medical unit, Mabie indicated, was “returning to the fire station that actually witnessed the fire and the glow on the mountain” and also called it in.

When crews arrived on scene, Mabie said the house was “one half to three quarters fully involved” and that the entire left side was on fire.

According to Mabie, there was an initial search-and-rescue attempt to locate the occupants when crews arrived on scene.

Mabie said the search-and-rescue crew was pulled out and they “went defensive” when it was “determined that the structure was no longer safe enough to keep people inside.”

He explained that the fire “had been burning pretty good for a while. There were places on the first floor where it had burned through the floor as well as the second floor.”

This made it difficult for crews to perform salvage and overhaul as well as the initial search-and-rescue effort, Mabie said.

Mabie noted that crews also had to deal with heavy fog in the area that slowed the response time of the crews down “a little bit.”

“This particular road is high up in the mountains, and it’s fairly narrow, which slows you down enough as it is,” Mabie said, adding, “The fog itself was so bad that you have to reduce your speed to be safe.”

Crews also dealt with heavy rain in addition to the thick fog, Madie added. “[The rain] makes an unsafe environment even more unsafe.”

He added that, because the house was built on a slope, the rain made hazardous footing even more hazardous. “We were fairly lucky we didn’t have any injuries to firefighters.”

Crews were able to get the fire under control within 30 minutes of arriving on the scene.

According to Mabie, crews from Front Royal, Linden, Warren County, Shenandoah Shores, Rivermont and Chester Gap responded to the fire.

“We had units on the scene until well after midnight,” he said, “The last unit cleared [the scene] at 3:12 a.m.”

Madie indicated that they will be offering the residents assistance from the Red Cross once they return from being out of state.

At the moment, Mabie said they are in the process of interviewing residents who live in the High Knob area.

The fire marshal’s office is urging residents who may have witnessed a lightning strike to contact Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico at 540-636-3830 or gmaiatico@warrencountyfire.com.

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