Up in flames

Photo by Matthew BlackMatthew Black

The historic two-story frame house at Green Road and Slate Mills Road, many years ago a country store, burned to the ground Monday morning in a fire authorities say was likely caused by an electrical problem. Shortly after 8, firefighters said, Jan Thomas, who has shared the house with companion Steve Green (whose family has owned the property for generations), noticed flames on or above the front porch. She and Green were able to escape out the back; by the time firefighters arrived less than 10 minutes after the call came, the entire structure was engulfed; the fire spread to two vehicles and an outbuilding, all total losses, and the heat was so intense that crews had to park their equipment 50 feet away. Sperryville Volunteer Fire Company fought the blaze with help from Washington VFR, Castleton Community VFC, volunteer fire crews and tankers from Salem and Madison, and Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad. The victims’ family and friends have created a donation page at www.gofundme.com/nkkz4k to help Green and Thomas recover from the loss.

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1 Comment

  1. The picture featured in the print edition clearly showed this home was constructed with balloon framing used between the 1830’s to 1950’s. Fire is the primary cause of destruction of these old and historical homes because the exterior wall cavity creates a chimney effect for any fire.

    Unless the owner retrofits fire-stop blocking within the outer walls, a costly and messy undertaking, and replaces all interior ‘wood’ wall-coverings with plaster board they remain a potential fire trap for their occupants.

    Unless… Appropriate networked fire alarms are installed to warn of smoke, flame, CO2 and gas. Even my present home, built in 1990, had only minimally required fire alarms placed in the up and down stairs halls.

    Current minimal home safety recommendations are for wireless networked alarms for ‘fire’ (smoke-particle and fire-heat) placed in every ‘sleeping’ room, CO2 and ‘fire’ combo alarm in every hall outside the bedroom entries and gas (methane or propane) detector in the room containing the water heater or other gas appliance.

    The volunteer departments in Rappahannock Co might look at smokealert.com for a lead on how to better protect the life and property of their neighbors while strenghthening their ability to reduce life and property damage.

    Sometimes prevention rather than better reaction has a positive reward. Fewer and less destructive fires because of more universal and comprehensive detection will improve the firefighters importance in the community and ‘save’ themselves from the possible injuries and tragedies that are a part of the risk of their profession.

    Fires will still happen but the response will be sooner (not quicker) and the risk of personal injury to occupants and firefighters alike will be lessened.

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