FRONT ROYAL – It was around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday when Herbert Patterson noticed a fire at his neighbor's home.

He went to the rear of the neighbor's home at 105 W. 18th St. and saw sparks coming off an electrical wire that was dangling on the porch.

“It sounded a lot like fireworks,” Patterson said.

From there, it didn’t take long for flames to spread to the vegetation surrounding the home and then consume it.

Two elderly people who were in the home were transported to Warren Memorial Hospital following the blaze. 

The fire was reported at around 4:30 a.m., Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said during a phone interview.

The two residents occupying the building were non-ambulatory, Maiatico said, meaning they needed assistance walking. Two Front Royal Police Department officers who were first at the scene helped them out of the residence, he said.

Those police officers were Eric Suess and Rachel Martin, according to Police Capt. Crystal Cline.

"It was pretty intense," Police Chief Kahle Magalis said.

A man who lived at the home is blind, Patterson noted.

“It’s a shame,” Patterson said of what happened, explaining the two residents had lived there for several years. 

They were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene before being taken to the hospital, Maiatico said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Patterson said his understanding is that the residents were in pretty good shape.

Because of several storage items in the residence, windows and doors were blocked and it was difficult for crews to operate inside the home, Maiatico said.

Along with overgrown vegetation surrounding the home, the fire was attacked defensively from outside the building, with crews not leaving the scene until about 11 a.m., Maiatico said.

All companies from within Warren County responded to the scene, including Chester Gap, as the fire was upgraded to a second-alarm attack, with three additional engines and two additional medical vehicles responding.

Mutual aid came from Middletown, Stephens City and Strasburg. Fauquier County provided coverage for Warren County, Maiatico said. 

Two firefighters were injured. One was treated at the scene and the other was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital but released by Wednesday afternoon, Maiatico said.

The building was deemed a total loss and uninhabitable. The American Red Cross was contacted to provide assistance, Maiatico said.

It wasn’t clear if there were operating smoke alarms inside the home, he said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but there does not appear to be any signs of foul play, Maiatico said.

Contact Charles Paullin at

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