Swallowed in Flames
MOUNT JACKSON – Flames and smoke swallowed the home of Daryl and Yvett Hulvey on Wednesday evening, leaving a charred hulk where the house had stood for more than a century.
“The initial shock is pretty much over,” Yvett Hulvey said Friday as she and her husband combed through the debris at 10694 Old Valley Pike.
The fire at the two-story wood structure was called in at 5:38 p.m. Wednesday after Daryl Hulvey had smelled smoke and gone downstairs to tell his wife. She was in the kitchen at the time and said she thought the smell was coming from a grill heating up on the back porch, but they soon discovered flames pouring from a different spot in the back.
A fire extinguisher and water from a garden hose failed to extinguish the blaze.
“It was just too much out of hand,” Yvett Hulvey, 63, said of the fire. “The hose just wasn’t going to get it under control.”
Shenandoah County Fire Marshal David Ferguson said a subsequent investigation showed the fire was caused by an electrical defect around a switch. Firefighters and rescue squads from Edinburg, New Market, Mount Jackson, Conicville, Woodstock and Shenandoah County arrived at the scene to find weather conditions that slowed their efforts to stop the fire.
“The wind was definitely a hampering factor in its velocity, and it caused the fire to spread rapidly throughout the home,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson and the Hulveys agreed the house was a total loss. Daryl Hulvey, 68, said the house will have to be demolished. He said he expected to replace it with a modular home on the two-acre site.
“I really hate to see this old house go,” he said.
Ferguson estimated the loss of the home at $83,000. Two cats perished in the fire, but a third cat and three dogs survived.
The personal belongings destroyed in the fire included Daryl Hulvey’s baseball card collection, which he estimated was worth $25,000.
“I had them in a safe, but the safe melted,” he said.
The house was built in 1893 and was more than just a place to live for the Hulveys. The couple moved in four years ago after the death of Daryl Hulvey’s father, who had lived there since 1991.
Daryl Hulvey was hazy on the history of the home before 1991, but he said the previous owner had lived there for a long time before his father bought it. The easterly wind blowing at the time of the fire may have prevented it from spreading to a smokehouse and other structures in the back.
The backyard provides a view of a majestic residence about a quarter mile away that he said was a plantation mansion in pre-Civil War times and served for a while as a headquarters for Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson during the war.
Daryl Hulvey, who had a great-grandfather who fought in the war, lost two Confederate flags when the fire burst outside the house and reached a couple of flagpoles.
He and his wife are staying for now in a Mount Jackson motel through arrangements made by the Red Cross.
Ferguson urged people disposing of ashes and conducting controlled burns to exercise caution. The humidity and winds at this time of year make it easy for fires to spread quickly before firefighters can arrive, he said.
“You don’t expect something like this to happen to you,” Yvett Hulvey said. “When it does happen, it’s just overwhelming.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org