House fire forces evacuation

Firefighters stand outside a home at 318 Newman St., in Strasburg where fire heavily damaged the second floor on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – A chimney fire destroyed part of a house Tuesday morning and forced the evacuation of two occupants in what town Fire Chief Jeff Wharton said is likely to be the first of several such incidents as cold weather settles in over the area.

The Strasburg Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 318 Newman St. at about 9:09 a.m. Wharton said firefighters arrived to find smoke visible through windows on the second floor and spent about a half hour bringing the fire under control.

“It ended up being a bedroom fire,” Wharton said. “Some spark came out of the chimney and caught some clothes on fire in the bedroom and pretty much gutted the bedroom.”

Wharton estimated the damage at $15,000, which included smoke damage to the entire second floor and a small amount of water damage on the first floor.

A husband and wife who were renting the house escaped without injury but have been forced to relocate with help from the Red Cross. Two pet dogs inside were also evacuated to safety.

Bill Streett, deputy chief of training for Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue, breaks the second floor window of a fire-damaged Strasburg home on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Wharton said authorities have deemed the house unfit for habitation until repairs are made.

Firefighters from Toms Brook, Middletown and Shenandoah County also helped quell the fire. The county fire marshal and building inspector were also at the scene.

Wharton said chimney fires are common when people heat their homes during cold weather. Many fires are the result of failure to have chimneys inspected and maintained, he said.

“They had no smoke detector, and they hadn’t had the chimney checked in a couple of years,” Wharton said of the fire victims.

He added that people should outfit their residences with working smoke detectors and have chimneys inspected at the beginning, middle and end of the heating season.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

A Shenandoah County firefighter throws debris from a second floor window. Rich Cooley/Daily