Fire destroys two houses

Mark Showers, assistant fire marshal and accelerant canine handler for Frederick County, holds his dog Walker outside a fire scene on Trumpet Vine Drive in Stephens City on Thursday afternoon. A fire Wednesday night started in the house under construction on the right, destroying that home and the occupied house on the left. A house located in the rear of these homes suffered siding damage from the heat of the blaze. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – A fire Wednesday night destroyed one house and another that was under construction.

Frederick County fire and rescue officials said the fire started at 128 Trumpet Vine Drive, an unoccupied house that was under construction but only a few weeks away from completion.

Firefighters were notified of the fire around 9:38 p.m. by Monte and Donna Zimbro, a couple living next door to the structure. The fire spread to their home and had engulfed it by the time firefighters arrived at the scene. The Zimbros escaped unharmed and received assistance from the Red Cross in finding shelter and other necessities.

Steven Ritter, assistant fire chief and fire marshal for Stephens City, said the houses could not be saved by the time his crew arrived.

“When I pulled up, the whole house was involved,” Ritter said in an interview Thursday. “We were defensive right off the bat. I wouldn’t put anybody in there.”

Frederick County Assistant Fire Marshal William Pifer III, left, and Justin Caldwell, a specialist with the fire marshal's office, investigate the fire scene of a home at 130 Trumpet Vine Drive in Stephens City on Thursday afternoon. Fire destroyed a new home under construction and the home beside it on Wednesday night. Firefighters were able to limit damages to a third home that suffered melted siding. Rich Cooley/Daily

Firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading, but the intense heat melted away the siding of a third house that faced the two structures that were disappearing in the flames. Most of the fire was extinguished in about an hour, and crews remained on the scene for an additional four hours.

W.E. Pifer, assistant fire marshal for Frederick County, combed through the debris Thursday afternoon looking for clues to what caused the fire. Pifer said he had reached no conclusions, except that the fire appeared to have begun in the middle part of 128 Trumpet Vine.

“With this amount of damage, we’re still in the early part of the investigation, Pifer said.

Firefighters from Stephens City, Middletown, Millwood Station, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Battalion 10, Frederick County Fire Marshal’s office and the county department’s Chaplain Corps responded to the incident. They received help from Winchester and North Warren County.

No one was injured.

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

A garage door rests in the driveway of a home on Trumpet Vine Drive in Stephens City following a fire Thursday night. Rich Cooley/Daily