Fire officials investigating cause of house fire in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

August 19, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER and DAN DEARTH |

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that tore through a house Thursday night near Shepherdstown, W.Va., Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Capt. Brian Fluharty said Friday.

The fire started around 10 p.m. at the rear of the two-story, Cape Cod-style home at 3953 Shepherd Grade Road, Fluharty said.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames that were showing outside, but the fire spread between the walls to the second floor and attic. He said the walls had to be torn down to fight the fire.

A damage estimate was unavailable Friday afternoon.

"It will be up to the insurance investigator to figure that out," Fluharty said. "The house was heavily damaged by fire."

No one was home because the house was up for sale, Fluharty said. There were no serious injuries, but a Shepherdstown firefighter had to be taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion, he said.

Although the house was in a rural area, firefighters were able to alternate tankers to maintain a constant flow of water, Fluharty said. It took about 20 to 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.

He said firefighters cleared the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Friday.

The home's owner, John Lehman, said at the scene that he and his family had lived there for about a year before they recently put the property on the market.

"We were getting ready to sell it, and here we go with this," as he watched the scene. 

"What do you do?" he asked.

Lehman said he believed lightning could have caused the fire.

About 30 firefighters from companies in Maryland and West Virginia responded to the scene, Fluharty said.

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