Roanoke Rapids firefighters planned to return to Allen Avenue today to continue investigation of a fire which left a house totally damaged, destroyed two vehicles and claimed the life of the family’s dog Sunday afternoon.
Chief Jason Patrick said firefighters believe the fire most likely started in the area of an attached carport at the back of the house in the 800 block of the street. He said the cause is yet to be determined but the fire is not considered suspicious.
Firefighters believe the blaze “had a big head start” before it was noticed and called in shortly after 4 p.m.
Of major concern during the fire was an LP gas tank which had vented. Firefighters had to keep a continuous spray of water on the tank to keep it from exploding.
On the first alarm eight on-duty firefighters arrived and the second alarm went out at six minutes later where 18 off-duty firefighters responded. Davie volunteer firefighters were summoned shortly after 4:30 p.m and eight arrived.
It took around two hours to bring the fire under control and firefighters stayed on scene until shortly before 9 p.m., Patrick said.
The roof of the house had been compromised before firefighters arrived and the fire department used its ladder truck to spray the roof.
Firefighters found the house was engulfed in flames and heavy smoke when they arrived. They also found downed power lines and the vented LP gas tank. “We started cooling the tank to keep it from exploding. That was the main priority,” Battalion Chief Tim Gray said. “It was a hard fire to fight.”
While no one was at home when the fire broke out, Patrick said one of its occupants arrived and witnessed the doors of a storage area at the carport blow open.
Gray said the fire department requested Halifax EMS to bring its rehab trailer to the scene.
Patrick said the trailer contains misting fans, cooling chairs along with water and Gatorade. EMS personnel also checked vitals of the firefighters.
No firefighters succumbed to heat exhaustion while battling the blaze, Patrick said. With the number of firefighters on scene, the fire department called for a rotation of them every 10 minutes. “We made sure we rotated our guys as much as possible so it didn’t overheat anybody.”
Patrick said members of the community also responded by bringing cases of water and Gatorade. Roanoke Valley Ice brought 10 bags of ice to the scene.
The American Red Cross was notified and a GoFundMe page has been created to help.
The narrative of the page says, “My friend Chase Clary lost everything he owned in a house fire. He also lost his dog in the fire. He is currently living out of a motel that his cousin put he and his family up in for three days.”
Chase, according to the GoFundMe page, works as a high school teacher.
Gray also said he could not say with certainty how the fire started or how long it was burning before it was called in to the 911 Center. “That’s one of the things that will have to come up in investigation.”
Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad, the Roanoke Rapids Public Works and police departments also responded.