Another house fire claims life

Published 12:26 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

Another house fire in Buckingham County has claimed a life.

According to a release by Virginia State Police (VSP) Public Relations Director Corinne Geller, the fire broke out at a home on Hardware Road at approximately 10:27 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7. The release cited that three of the four individuals inside of the home at the time of the fire were able to escape the house without injury. A fourth individual, an adult female, was rescued from the burning building but did not survive her injuries.

Arvonia Fire Chief Steve Toney stated that he was the first to arrive on scene.

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“Well, we got the call. It was reported that they had flames showing and that there was one person that was inside the house. By the time I think I was leaving the firehouse, they called back and said that they had gotten the member out of the house,” Toney said in reference to the other family members, “but she ended up passing away.”

Toney explained that the home, located on Hardware Road, was unfortunately in a bad location that made it difficult for emergency crews to reach the blaze. Glenmore and Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Departments also responded to the scene, although it was equally difficult for them to reach the residence.

“We’ve had several fires in that area and it takes us probably about 20 minutes to get there from Arvonia Fire House from response time. In Dillwyn, it probably takes them about 25-30 minutes to get there, and Glenmore’s about the same thing. It’s kind of no man’s land, what it amounts to. It’s in the middle of nowhere and kind of hard to get a quick response time, but when I got there, I was the first unit on the scene and it was fully involved.”

Toney added that the Buckingham home was filled with clothing and books that fed the blaze. Additionally, the residence was made primarily of cinder blocks, meaning that much of the heat was unable to escape.

“It was just unreal how hot it was. All the heat was held in the cinder block walls. It was so hot that the cinder blocks were actually blowing up; they were bursting like cans or something,” Toney remarked.

Toney added that a tanker from Fork Union had to be called to the scene, as the home was in such a remote location that no water supply was readily available to help put out the flames.

“A couple of guys who were there got there pretty quick, I think, that are on the rescue squad, and they started working on them,” he said in reference to the fire’s victim. “But like I said, she was pretty much gone then.”

According to Toney, the home’s roof caved in after the fire, only adding more difficulty to the units’ response. Nothing but the home’s walls now remain.

The Arvonia Volunteer Fire Department applied foam to the hot spots left after the initial house fire in order to prevent spreading.

“If you have got a hot spot and you get a wind blowing through, it doesn’t take much to get out. It still doesn’t take much when you go out in the woods. We got there fully involved, but it just started burning the woods around the house too. I got that down pretty quick … There was another house about 50- 75 feet from it, and that’s a thing you’ve got to worry about too. If you get the wind blowing in the right direction, it doesn’t take much to get things over in another dwelling.”

The news of this tragedy comes less than two months after another Buckingham house fire on Sept. 16 claimed the lives of a family of three.

“I was talking to one of the guys in Dillwyn,” said Toney. “It’s unusual, how many house fires we’ve had already, you know. Really, we haven’t gotten into the wintertime yet, but we’ve had more already than what we’ve had probably in the last two years … You hate to see a fatality. Fatalities make it that much worse.”

In the VSP’s release, Geller stated that with the assistance of Buckingham County Fire and Rescue as well as the Sheriff’s Office, VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is investigating the origin and cause of the fire. VSP does not currently believe that the house fire was suspicious in nature.