Home destroyed in Sunday morning fire

July 31, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Firefighters battle a fire Sunday morning at 228 Maplewood Court in the Norwood South development in Bakerton, W.Va.
By Richard F. Belisle/Staff Writer

BAKERTON, W.Va. — A late-morning fire caused some anxious moments for firefighters and neighbors Sunday who believed a woman was trapped in a burning house in a development off Flowing Springs Road.

It turned out the woman had gone to church, firefighters said.

The woman is the mother of the homeowner, Thomas Slattery. Slattery, who was at work at the time of the 11:26 a.m. fire, declined to comment or to give his mother’s name.

Several neighbors and passers-by said they tried several times to enter the house at 228 Maplewood Court in the Norwood South development to see if anyone was inside but were driven back by heavy smoke and flames.

Firefighters also tried to get inside but met the same fate, said Chief James Johnson of the Bakerton Fire Department, the first responding company.

“We went inside and searched bedrooms,” he said. “When we saw a ceiling collapse, we bailed out through a window.”

Johnson said he made it into a room where there was heavy smoke. Then a door came off its hinges and extreme heat filled the room, he said.

“We could hear it caving it,” Johnson said of the home’s roof.

Johnson said his ego was telling him to say in the house but his conscience told him to get out.

Johnson said at the scene that the home was destroyed and the cause was yet to be determined.

There were no injuries, he said.

Scott Simmons, a neighbor, said he saw white smoke and thought if might be from a neighbor’s barbecue.

“When I saw black smoke, I knew it was a house, so I drove up,” he said.

Simmons and several neighbors got into the house through a rear basement door, but were soon forced back out.
“This thing really went quick,” he said.

Andrei Trach of North Potomac, Md., said he dropped his son off at Shepherd University and was driving home on Flowing Springs Road when he saw the smoke and stopped to investigate.

He said he and others tried to get in through the front door but the ceiling caved in. Some of the men went in through the basement while others grabbed a ladder to look in the windows to see if anyone was trapped inside.

John McKim, who lives on nearby Redwood Court, said he donated ladders from his house to help people working at the fire scene.

Neighbors quickly gathered around the scene. It wasn’t long before they started to bring lawn chairs for the firefighters who were taking refuge from Sunday’s 90-plus-degree temperatures under shade trees.

Johnson said units responded from across Jefferson County, from Berkeley County, Brunswick in Frederick County, Md., and Loudoun County, Va.

Firefighters set up a tanker shuttle system at the bottom of the hill below the burning house.

— Staff Writer Dave McMillion contributed to this story.

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