Local News

After Fire, Rolesville Asks: Were Houses Too Close?

Posted August 22, 2007

— Tuesday’s major fire in Rolesville could bring big changes to the town.

After flames jumped from house to house, questions arose about whether the houses were too close together. Town leaders said they plan to study the issue.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Wednesday. Two homes were destroyed. Six others, including two on either side of where the fire started, were seriously damaged.

Firefighters had a difficult time stopping the flames from spreading because the houses were so close together, according to the fire chief.

It was all firefighters could do to keep the fire from jumping from house to house. With just a few feet between each home, they had to use "a wall of water" to keep the flames at bay.

Jill Dixon lives next to one of the destroyed homes. The flames melted her siding.

“Even the tops of these trees were on fire,” she said. “You could see flames shooting up. We just got out of the house. Neighbors were yelling at us to get out of the house.”

As investigators sifted through the remains looking for a cause, fire victims said they wondered whether the small distance between the homes contributed to the magnitude of the disaster.

“I do think they're too close together. Especially after something like this happened,” Dixon said.

Rolesville Fire Chief Rodney Privette said the close proximity of the homes makes it almost impossible to keep a major fire contained.

“Ten feet is not far enough as far as I'm concerned,” he said. “Can't help it from going to the next house. It's going to spread.”

As a result of the fire, the town was creating a committee to look at zoning and whether more fire-resistant building materials need to be used.

“We're very concerned. We feel sorry for the residents, and we want to make sure all of our residents are safe and everything's done that could be possible to help them,” said Mayor Pro-tem Frank Eagles.

The neighborhood is zoned for four houses per acre and allows no less than 10 feet between homes. The committee members looking at this issue said they will include town leaders and home-builders to make sure everyone's perspectives are included.


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  • tmedlin Aug 23, 2007

    hardiplank is more fire resistant - vinyl is cheaper and never has to be painted.

  • phillipcoder Aug 23, 2007

    I live across the street from the burned down houses and the siding on the front of our house is melted. The houses are too close together(between 10 and 15 feet) and what someone stated about the firetruck getting there within two minutes of the call is right. I talked to a fireman that day that was in the first truck to arrive. The house was totally in flames when they arrived. When they pulled up they had to back the truck up because they couldnt get out of the truck for the heat. The firemen did what they could and did a good job. I have talked to the Rolesville Fire Chief and believe him to be a good/hard working person who made sure that everything was done correctly.

    There is still a rumour about whether the kids were playing with fireworks in the garage but we will see what the investigation decision is.

  • Squirreling Dervish Aug 23, 2007

    When looking to buy a house, which is better? Vinyl or Hardiplank?

  • Beachnut Aug 23, 2007

    How many more fires do we need before regulators realize that vinyl siding over waferboard isn't terribly fire resistant? The sad truth seems to be that while much more fire resistance can be provided to houses by better selection of materials and construction techniques- for example, cement board (hardiplank) on the side walls instead of plastic. But since this costs a few pennies more per square feet (because it has to be painted), the builder's aren't gonna go there voluntarily. Now that we know that plastic houses set ten feet apart creates a spreading fire hazard, regulators need to step up and fix the code!

  • HangOn Aug 23, 2007

    Cram 'em in there.

  • yougottabekidding Aug 23, 2007

    Cary does allow red fire trucks but they have to be Brick Red #3 and they can't have more than 10% chrome, their horns can not be heard from more than 10 yards away and they can't be parked by the curb nearest the fire for more than 15 minutes. If any of these ordinances are not properly adhered too, the owner of the property that is damaged by the fire will be fined. Also, if the address of the property were the fire is ends in an odd number then the Fire Dept can only respond on even numbered days and Saturdays, Like wise, if the address ends in an even number then they can only respond on Mon, Wed, and Thur, but never on Tuesday. There is a $2500.00 fine to the property owner for the first infraction and a $100,000.00 fine for each additional infraction. Preston Woods is exempt from this regulation.

  • yougottabekidding Aug 23, 2007

    It's amazing how all of a sudden we have sooooo many experts out there telling us that they are building houses tooo close to each other. Where were all you experts when they plans were being approved? Where were you when the houses were being built? Those houses are exactly what the builder and buyers wanted. Not everyone desires a large yard. Should they start making townhomes farther apart? How about apatment buildings? Fires happen, some times they are set other times they are the result of accidents. When you look at the sheer number of homes in this area, the odds are that from time to time we are going to have a fire. Wow what a surprise. Maybe we should look into forming a group of people who would actually take trucks full of water to a fire in an attempt to extinguish it. Oh That's right, we already have that, they are called firemen. and they have been putting out fires for centuries.

  • FE Aug 23, 2007

    WWCD? ("What would Cary do") Do they even allow RED fire trucks?

    On a more serious note, within the last few years a new subdivision was "created" nearby from a large cluster of trees somehow or other still present in the established neighborhoods. The new homes are quite nice, but I am amazed by how close together the actual buildings are. Aside from any privacy issues (I guess no one opens their windows any more?) there HAS to be a fire safety issue there. Most of the homes are not brick structures.

    You can also see a related problem in some "inside the Beltline" areas where an older home is bought, immediately demolished, and replaced with a three-story monster that fills up the lot.

  • William Tell Aug 23, 2007

    hindsight is 20/20. the planners should have taken a lesson from Chicago from over 100 years ago. If you wear blinders thru life, it is easy to say "I didn't know". Problem is, these are government official who are paid to not wear blinders.

  • applesmith Aug 23, 2007

    I hear people complaining about firefighters need moore training,the houses to close together,on and on and on. I was there directing traffic.Roselville fire and police had problems getting to the fire because of onlookers with rubber necks parking in the street in front of there houses. And then everybody and there brother wanted to run to the fire scene LET ME SEE LET ME SEE!! There is nobody to blame here . Rolesville fire and police along with Sheriffs office did the best they could do at the time. It will happen again as long as people live that close together ,store god knows what in there home,there will be fires. People and home owners should feel lucky that someone wants to do that work,risking life and limb and the chance to never see there family again just to save some person from death or protect there property or junk.GET OVER IT,OR DO IT YOUR SELF NEXT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!