Local News

Fire destroys historic Wake County homestead

Posted March 3, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Firefighters from several departments battled a house fire at historic Long Branch Farm in southeastern Wake County Tuesday morning.

The 4,200-square-foot house, at 2400 Branch Road, has an apartment attached to it, which also burned, authorities said. Four people inside the house at the time escaped unharmed, but one of two dogs at the home was still missing Wednesday afternoon.

Long Branch Farm fire None injured in fire at horse farm

"It's a shame. It's a beautiful house that they had, and unfortunately, it's probably destroyed," Wake County Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Ottaway said.

Al Winsett, who was a caretaker on the farm for more than a dozen years, said the fire destroyed a piece of local history.

The farm, which has operated in recent years as an equestrian center, includes a Civil War battle site and "is the site of one of the oldest homesteads within this area," according to its Web site.

"They're good folks. We've loved them," Winsett said. "We just felt like family with them."

No horses were injured in the fire.

Authorities think the fire started in the center of the house at about 7:45 a.m. and quickly spread throughout the building, Ottaway said. Investigators planned to return to the farm Wednesday, after the area had cooled, to begins sifting through the rubble to determine the cause of the fire, he said.

Crews were still putting water on the house after noon.

Fire rips through Raleigh house Sky 5: Fire rips through Raleigh house

Video from Sky 5 showed flames shooting through the roof of the two-story home, sending black smoke into the morning sky. Fire crews braved temperatures in the teens and were hampered by a lack of water lines. Numerous tankers were called to the scene to supply water.

Wake County real estate data lists the property owner as Laura S. Francis.

The family that owns the home declined to talk Tuesday, so it was unclear whether they plan to rebuild.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • LocalYokel Mar 3, 2009

    Perhaps more destruction caused by improperly discarded smoking materials? Wherever people smoke, there will be fire.

  • dmccall Mar 3, 2009

    You are right, angora2. I don't know why this "loose/lose" problem is rearing its head. I guess we have to give up on lie/lay. At least THAT one is slight tricky!

  • 7Degrees Mar 3, 2009

    crowdergirls - Please! Do you always have to blame someone else? The person lived in a rural area and probably didn't pay city taxes and most likely had well water which is insufficient to put out a fire. It would have taken several dozen tanker trucks of 5,000 gallons of water to have put out the fire. Just how many tankers do you think that ALL the tax payers should pay for on the off chance that a rural fire occurs? This is a terrible tragedy and that is all. I pray for the family and praise God that they got out alive.

  • angora2 Mar 3, 2009

    May I point out something? I see this mistake in comments here every day.

    Loose: adjective meaning not tight, not bundled
    Example: He emptied loose change from his pockets.

    Lose: verb meaning to suffer loss, be defeated
    Example: I don't want to lose my car keys.

  • commonsensical Mar 3, 2009

    crowdergirls: puh-leeze! The fire departments are well funded. The problem isn't the equipment, it's the water supply. If you don't have enough water to overcome the volume of fire, then you're not going to be able to do anything. More equipment won't get you the water flow you need. Yes, I was a firefighter for 12 years so I know. It appears from the photo that this fire either got into the open attic space and took off, or was quite well developed once the fire department arrived. There isn't much that can be done at that point anyway, especially with the older construction.

  • angora2 Mar 3, 2009

    For this family, this was Step One of the disaster. Step Two will be dealing with the insurance company, which is a nightmare. Insurance companies do NOT want to help people whose houses burn down. It's a crime how fire victims are treated by the company they've paid thousands of dollars to guarantee relief at a time like this.

  • crowdergirls Mar 3, 2009

    The reason why this house is a complete loss is because wake county has not fully funded our emergency responders with equipment they need to adequately fight fire where there are no water lines. Wake county commissioners need to get off their duff and fund our first responders with personnel and equipment they have repeatedly asked for...people's lives (ie wake county taxpayers), pets, and property are not adequately protected by the county for which they live and pay taxes. WRAL needs to investigate this further.

  • DJ of Clayton Mar 3, 2009

    The occupants got out OK. After the fire had completely burned the house down, a dog was found under a table in the back of the house by one of the firefighters. He was reunited with his family with his tail wagging. They took him to the vet to have him checked out.

  • Adelinthe Mar 3, 2009

    Awww, praying for the missing doggy, and praying for the family.

    God bless.


  • BigUNCFan Mar 3, 2009


    The story is updated constantly as new info arrives. These comments were posted before the story was updated with the status of the people.