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Blaze guts house in Martinsville
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Martinsville Fire officials investigate a fire scene on Stultz Road in Martinsville on Thursday. The cause of the fire has not been determined. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, March 29, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Fire gutted a home on Stultz Road on Thursday, and the American Red Cross is providing financial assistance for the residents.

Martinsville Fire Marshal Ted Anderson said the blaze occurred at a rental home at 746 Stultz Road.

A mother, her adult son and grandson were in the single-family, three-bedroom, one-bath home when they noticed the blaze, Anderson said. The man was tying his son’s shoes when he smelled smoke, went into the kitchen to investigate and saw fire around the stove.

The man then yelled for his mother, fearing that she was in the bathroom and would be blocked in by the blaze, Anderson said.

Fortunately, the woman was in her bedroom, and “they all got out with the clothes on their backs,” Anderson said.

The Red Cross is helping the family with expenses for meals, clothing and hotel accommodations, according to Amy T. Whittaker, regional director of public affairs for the American Red Cross in Roanoke. Its disaster workers will continue to follow up with the family to provide additional resources and referrals, she stated in an email.

The property is owned by Paul Stone, according to Anderson and Bill Hooper of the Martinsville Fire Department.

Stone said he got a call at 7:15 a.m. Thursday that the house was burning, and he spent the day at the scene. The house was not leveled, he said, “but everything inside was burned.”

He has owned the house for about five years and rented it out during that time. The current tenants had lived there less than a year, he said.

Stone had insurance on the home but the tenants did not, Anderson said. The house is considered a total loss, he added.

Stone said an insurance adjuster told him essentially the same thing. No damage estimate was available.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, Anderson said.

“At this point, the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “Right now, it’s listed as undetermined because I need a little more information” than was available Thursday.

Firefighters arrived at the scene likely within five minutes, and were able to knock it down quickly initially, Anderson said. But the fire was hidden in certain attic spaces that were created when additions were built on the home.

The blaze also “had a huge jump on the fire department. It was already rolling over the ceiling and down the other wall” of the older home, he said, “and four rooms went into flashover,” which is floor-to-ceiling burning.

Anderson estimated the home was built in the 1950s, with additions that may have been built in the 1960s or 1970s. Stone was not certain when the house was built.

“There was just a combination of factors” working against firefighters, he said. “This was a very significant fire.”


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