Staring fire in the face

By John McCaslin

It was a close call Friday night for firefighter Nick Billups of Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue, among the first responders to a house fire on Fodderstack Road near Washington. “I started moving [with a pike pole] what I thought was a log, but it was a gasoline can. Then the next thing you know, whoosh!” explained the visibly shaken Billups, whose vitals are being monitored here by Terry Robey (left) of Washington Fire and Rescue and Todd Summers of the Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad. Washington Assistant Fire Chief Bobby Smoot described what transpired as a sudden and intense “flash fire — we hosed him [Billups] down and dragged him out.”

By John McCaslin

Several gas cans were stored in a tub beneath the home’s wooden deck, which had to be chainsawed apart and doused with firefighting foam. Washington Fire Chief Ann Spieker praised the brave volunteers, especially firefighter Charles Crawford, who within a second of the flash fire engulfing Billups swung his nozzle around and extinguished the flames. “He was like a human torch,” Spieker said. “He could have been severely hurt.” Additional damage to the brick residence was confined mainly to fascia board.

By John McCaslin
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