A Beaufort area family narrowly escaped a fire Thursday night that engulfed their home and vehicle.
The blaze was reported about 9:45 p.m. at a residence in the 2100 block of East Casco Road by a female homeowner who was awakened by a smoke detector, according to Franklin County Arson Investigator Jim Schumacher.
“By the time she wakes up her daughter and grabs a few personal items, and a dog, and gets out to report the incident, there was a lot of burn time,” he said. “The whole family was very lucky.”
Beaufort-Leslie fire crews responded to the scene with the assistance of the Union Fire Protection District firefighters. The Washington Fire Company manned a Union firehouse and the Gerald-Rosebud Fire District responded to a station in Beaufort.
According to Beaufort-Leslie Fire Chief Terry Feth, the single-story home was engulfed in flames when crews arrived. A vehicle also was destroyed by the blaze.
Firefighters worked to douse the flames to prevent spreading and find the ignition source.
“We were trying to get all of the embers out so we could get in there and investigate a bit,” Feth said.
Strong winds and dry conditions also caused for a potential for the fire to spread, he stated.
“Anything over 6 miles per hour will drive a fire,” Feth commented. “That was probably one of reasons it was so well involved.”
According to Union firefighter Jared Kessels, crews sprayed water on the blaze for about three hours.
“That was mainly to prevent the spread — especially due to high winds,” he said. “When there are wind-driven fires, there is the potential for wood fires and brush fires.”
“Especially this time of the year with leaves on the grounds,” Kessels added. “The main problem we faced was getting water to the scene due to the fact that there are no hydrants in the area.”
Feth added that a narrow driveway to the home also posed a challenge to fire crews.
There were 11 trucks that responded on the scene between the Union and Beaufort-Leslie districts. That included five tankers.
There were 22 volunteer Beaufort-Leslie firefighters at the scene and 13 Union paid and volunteer firefighters.
According to Schumacher, the fire began in the front exterior of the residence.
“The homeowner was inside the home with a child and when she was awakened,” he said, “she witnessed the fire out on the front porch or deck and it was coming through the front living room windows, and entering the interior of the house.”
Schumacher explained that much of the “major burning and charring” was on the wood deck of the home.
“We’re looking at several accidental sources of ignition, but we don’t see anything suspicious,” he said. “There was nothing to indicate any type of crime.”
Schumacher added that dry leaves may have caused the fire to spread quickly.
“There was a lot of leaves all over the place,” he further added. “When we get a lot of dried combustible material, like leaves, bundled up under a wood porch and then add hot embers, we could very well have a fire.”