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Fire at historic homestead still under investigation

Posted March 4, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Federal, state and county investigators on Wednesday were back at the scene of a fire that destroyed a historic Wake County homestead Tuesday morning.

The fire broke out around 7:45 a.m., and flames quickly spread throughout the 4,200-square-foot house at Long Branch Farm in southeastern Wake County.

Fire rips through Raleigh house Cause of blaze still unknown

The four people in the home escaped unharmed, as did one of the family's two dogs.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire, but say they believe it started in the center of the home.
They used arson dogs to sniff for accelerants, which Wake County Fire Services' Ray Echevarria said is routine when a cause is unknown.

"It could have been an accident. It could have been something otherwise. We just don't know, but we're trying to make use of every tool," Echevarria said. "At this point, we haven't ruled out any possibility."

The house, which dates to the Civil War era, appeared to be a total loss. A 10-acre equestrian center near the house was unaffected by the fire.

Neighbor Cindy Baucom said there had been talk before the fire that the owner, Laura Francis, was ready to move on.

"The house was in her ex-husband's family," Baucom said. "I'm sure she was thinking along the terms of creating a new life."

She said she believes the fire was an accident.

"The furnace is what we're kind of guessing," she said. "I think she was supposed to have it looked at yesterday. I think that it had been tripping and coming on and off."

Francis was not available to comment Wednesday.

"I'm not sure what they'll do," Baucom said. "I suspect that Laura will open a new chapter (of her life)."

5 Comments

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  • applep259 Mar 4, 2009

    How dare you guys write things like this. You don't even know the situation so how can you make assumptions that she or anyone did anything!!!! You people are ridiculous! This family has lost EVERYTHING and you are sitting here making comments about what you THINK could have happened instead of making comments about things we know NOTHING about! Put yourself in her shoes as well as her family's and just be quiet!

  • GALNC Mar 4, 2009

    Her Ex-Husbands family should have done a life estate so she could live there, but not keep the property. That would have prevented possible arson, and kept it in the family. My family did that with my ex-stepmom. She has lived there for 25 years and has to pay the taxes, but cannot sell the property. I am also able to use the property. If I die, it goes to my children..if they are not around..it goes to my siblings. Either way, she can't destroy and sell. Our family keeps the property which was has my father intended.

  • vaulter Mar 4, 2009

    yet another instance of a woman taking possession of something she had no MORAL right to. what if that property had been his family's since the Civil War, sooo wrong. I bet she burned it out of spite.

  • MyNameIsMud Mar 4, 2009

    As I understand it, the house at Ft. Bragg did not have electricity service, and I would put my guess on vagrants or vandals. So I wouldn't say the two fires are related.

  • donnied1952 Mar 4, 2009

    Is this fire in any way connected to the one on Ft. Bragg in Fayeteville? I thought that the two homes were of the same era, ergo built at about the same time.