Local News

Fire Sweeps Through Homes in Rolesville Neighborhood

Posted August 21, 2007
Updated August 22, 2007

— A fire swept through a neighborhood in Rolesville, destroying two houses and severely damaging a third on Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters said one house on Ashbrittle Drive was already engulfed in flames when they arrived. The flames quickly leaped to the homes on either side and to woods behind the homes.

Crews arrived at the scene within two minutes of receiving the first call, but by then it was too late, fire officials said. Two homes in the Village at Rolesville development off U.S. Highway 401 burned to the ground.

About 20 fire trucks from five fire department lined Ashbrittle Drive and nearby streets, and tanker trucks were called to the scene to supply more water to the effort. The fire was brought under control before 6:30 p.m., about 90 minutes after firefighters arrived at the scene, authorities said.

The intense heat from the flames melted siding on nearby houses and shriveled the backboard of a basketball net 20 feet away from the fire.

Hot temperatures reaching into triple digits also hampered firefighters' efforts. A number were treated for heat exhaustion, but none had to be taken to hospitals, officials said.

The fire left Jason and Patricia Jennings, of 639 Ashbrittle Drive; Brenda and Todd Shearon, of 641 Ashbrittle Drive; and Derek and Beth Keefer, of 643 Ashbrittle Drive, out of a home for the night.

The families were too distraught to talk, and neighbors commiserated with them.

"They're going to be OK, because their family is OK, but, you know, look at that," said neighbor Jeanette Whalen, pointing at the charred homes.

The Red Cross came out to help one family that requested the charity's assistance on Tuesday night.

No residents were injured, but neighbors said two dogs died in the fire. Jean Hagerman said her husband rushed in one home to try to save their neighbors' dogs.

"He saw the house on fire and ran around to the back, because he couldn't get in the front," Hagerman said. "He tried to break one of the windows, because he knew all the dogs were inside."

One dog, soaked and covered in soot, appeared to be the only one to get out.

The fire appeared to start in the garage of the first home that caught fire, but investigators said they don't believe the blaze was suspicious.

Investigators will return to the scene Wednesday morning to continue working to determine the cause of the fire.

Meanwhile, neighbors were grateful no one was hurt, but they were shocked by the devastation.

"The children are safe which is, of course, the most important thing, and the families, but it's horrible," Whalen said.

Two other houses in the new subdivision were destroyed by a June 1 fire. A fire at a house on Redford Place Drive caused a propane tank to explode, and the fire quickly spread to a second house, authorities said.


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  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Aug 22, 2007

    All firefighters in Wake County attend the same fire academy, at the same facility as Cary (Raleigh has their own facility). All firefighters in Wake County are held to the same standard as far as training and the amount of training we have goes. Not all departments have the same equipment, and that's what Mutual Aid is for, neighboring departments helping eachother, and is typical. All Wake County fire departments may not have the same brand name of hose, but they all have the same diameters, and an attack line is typically 1 1/2 inch in diameter, at least two men on a line. When you've almost been lifted off the ground from water pressure in an attack line, then talk junk. And when anyone makes negative comments about Rolesville FD, they are really talking about all Wake County Departments. That's surely a lot of great, hard working men and women to so sweepingly put down.

  • anti-Hans Aug 22, 2007

    Excellent points fire fighter, and thanks for your service. It is easy to sit back in the comfort we live and point fingers. I think what most dont realize what the V in front of the FD stands for.

    As I was saying earlier (but ran out of space to finish), I would gladly pay more tax for services. Instead the taxes go to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. We need better police, better fire, better teachers, and I coudl go on. Why is it these people, so important to our society, make the least? My brother is a police officer - amazing what they do for the little they get.

  • bigbr0ther Aug 22, 2007

    Yesterday was hot. The fire at the two houses had to of been burning for a long time befor it got dispatched for them to have spread so quickly. Also dont forget that it was 5 in the afternoon and the traffic was horriable. I was at the fire yesterday and also at the first one in this neighborhood. Yesterdays fire was so hot that it melted the siding off of the houses accross the street from the two that burned up. Plus the woods behid the house caught on fire and that is most likely how it spreaded to the second house. When you got as much traffic as Rolesville does and get a call at 5 when traffic on 401 is at a standstill, its going to be hard to get there in a quick maner. All the fire fighters yesterday did an amazing job. Not to mention that some of the fire fighters were at a differnt house fire befor this one and were already worn out form that one, and left there to go to the ROlesville fire. I would like to see some of yall that talk junk about the fire fighters do what we do

  • anti-Hans Aug 22, 2007

    I think we need a simple economics lesson here. Builders use cheap materials to make some of these homes affordable. They cram more houses into spaces to sell more houses so they can make money to stay in business and build more houses. I would like to know what all these people do building the $3M monstrosities.

    The mortgage industry is killing the econmoy now because people are buying more than they can afford, stretching to get more, and agreeing to stupid loans so they can keep up wiht the Joneses.

    It is simple - we all want the American dream of owning our house. In Raleigh and surrounding, it is becoming more difficult, and there are some opportunities like this neighborhood for normal people to buy.

    Volunteer FD's rely on $$$ from taxpayers and contributions. They might fight it differently if they had more funds. I dont want my taxes raised, who does? But I would gladly pay more tax for better safety programs - instead tax $$$ go to all the wrong places.

  • Is it Friday yet Aug 22, 2007

    "Maybe we should stop building houses 15 feet apart with flammable vinyl siding?"

    Even better, stop buying houses that are 15 feet apart.

  • wildervb Aug 22, 2007

    Maybe we should stop building houses 15 feet apart with flammable vinyl siding?

  • Rocknhorse Aug 22, 2007

    To WRAL - I am very curious as to WHY you pulled the post from codeblueEMT. I read that post and there was nothing negative or offensive in that post. It was a post pointing out the JOB WELL DONE BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT and a salute to those men. Why on earth was that pulled?

    codeblueEMT - I commend YOU and agreed with your post completely! If your username is also your job, then I also commend the work you do as well!

    Yesterday was blisteringly HOT and those firefighters were completely suited up and in the face of a roaring fire. Anyone who questions their dedication and/or the effort they put forth should be ashamed! The silver lining to this story is that no one was hurt! Yes, some lives will need to be rebuilt, but that can happen! Things can be replaced. No one was hurt!

  • Joshua Aug 22, 2007

    It's good to know that the Red Cross was asked for assistance. It increases visibility for the Red Cross as well as a need by those struck by disaster. And if you feel inclined to help, you know that the Red Cross is leading that assistance. :)

  • Is it Friday yet Aug 22, 2007

    Hats off to the Rolesville FD. I support them every year when donations are needed. We live in an unincorporated part of WF and they are always quick and professional - doing tough work.

  • lovecarolinagutters Aug 22, 2007

    This is the second house fire that I have seen in two days, that appear to have started from the roof. People please check your attic fans. They are running non-stop in this hot weather. Go outside or upstairs and listen. If the fan motor is loud TURN IT OFF.
    Praises for all fireman and blessings to the families.

    The Red Cross came out to assist one family who requested the charity's assistance: did we really need to know this??