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Garner house fires spark neighborhood concern

Posted August 1, 2011
Updated August 2, 2011

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— A Garner family is picking up the pieces after flames ripped through their home over the weekend, killing two of their dogs and sparking concerns from neighbors about the safety of houses in the Meadows community.

On Saturday, a fire erupted in the Otero family's garage and quickly spread through the entire house. In less than ten minutes, they lost everything. Ivan Otero, his wife Gloria and their three children made it out of the home safely, but Pearl the American bulldog and Betty the pitbull did not.

"(The house) was on fire and I went in and grabbed my dog. It was so hard; I couldn't breathe," Ivan Otero said. "I grabbed her and ran out, (but) she was so scared, she pulled away from me and left me with the collar in my hand."

"She ran back in and didn't want to come back out," he said.

Still, he's grateful that his family is safe.

"You want to know why and what happened and wonder if anything could have been done differently," he said. "But the bottom line is everybody is safe and all this is replaceable."

It's the third fire in the neighborhood in the past six months, said fire chief Chris Ellington, but the cause could not be determined because the damage was too extensive. Ivan Otero Garner house fires spark neighborhood concern

One house in the area is still undergoing repairs after the attic went up in smoke and in April, a garage fire gutted a house on Black Angus Drive.

Ellington said there's no common link between the fires; the April garage fire was accidental and the other was sparked by a faulty attic fan. The fact that they've happened over a brief time span is merely a coincidence, he said.

Neighbors, however, say they're concerned.

"People are afraid it's the wiring in the houses," said Angela Grubb, who lives nearby. "We've had some electrical problems in the house ... it just makes you think and wonder if you're next."

A spokeswoman for the neighborhood's homeowner's association said there's no reason to believe that the recent fires are similar in any way.

Neighbor Andrea Friend said she's not taking any chances.

"We added more smoke alarms," Friend said. "If it was just me in the house, I wouldn't think twice about it, but as a mom, you just make sure your kids are super safe."

21 Comments

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  • Garnerwolf1 Aug 2, 2011

    "I would never ever buy or live in a home with an attached garage,new or old.Cars can have electrical promlems and catch fire for no reason,then you have the carbon monoxide."
    Or a plane could fall out of the sky and land on my head so I'll never go outside again, LOL

  • bigpinkstork Aug 2, 2011

    bmg-- I get what you're saying, but you can buy/live in a house with a garage without putting a car in it. I'm sorry about the doggies and this family's possessions, but I'm glad the family made it out.

  • common tater Aug 2, 2011

    cantbtaught hit it on the nose...over the years I've uncovered dozens of problems in my house that should have been caught before a CO was ever issued...and should have been caught by "my" inspector when I bought, but weren't. Some major, some minor. When you find such obvious builder mistakes, makes you wonder what's behind walls where you can't see. Inspections/permits are just a cash cow for the inspectors. Next house I buy, I'll be doing my own inspection.

  • Centurian Aug 2, 2011

    I know the area is on a Garner mail route, but few in southwestern Johnston County consider themselves "Garner residents".

  • wmb95013 Aug 2, 2011

    The two leading causes of house fires are: cooking accidents and smoking. Many fires are caused by neglect, I'll fix that problem later, just go and "reset" the breaker again. A home, new or 100 years old needs attention. That's one thing not mentioned in this story or comments. As homeowners we need to do our part! unfortunately accidents will continue to happen; but an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

  • Gork Aug 2, 2011

    No one knows who the builder was?

  • same ole story Aug 2, 2011

    All those houses should be inspected by an outside third party housing inspector!! It seems that these and the Fred Smith homes are built in Johnston county with minimum standards. Just enough to barely pass inspection back them!! A lot of the homes have bare wires holding up light fixtures in the walls with no bracing behind them. Studs missing in the walls. low end ventalation equipment, and foundations that are unsafe. They need to bring in some one who didn't get a kick back to "look not to close" during building!!!

  • bmg379 Aug 2, 2011

    I would never ever buy or live in a home with an attached garage,new or old.Cars can have electrical promlems and catch fire for no reason,then you have the carbon monoxide.

    sorry about the loss of your pets,they can't be replaced

  • cheezchicken Aug 2, 2011

    I live in Johnston and not Wake county, but the home inspectors do a very poor job of inspecting the work performed on these houses. My neighbor had a ceiling fan wired straight to the box. I had 5 flex duct runs not connected to vents, and an attic condensate line not glued. It eventually popped out and water started running out of a ceiling vent. The contractor was bad, and the inspector was lazy probably with a fat pocket. claytontarheel

    I know! I've lived here 22 years, the first 10 in a home 120 years old; the last 12 in one such as you speak of. The old house only required some cosmetic improvements and one new sill. We've spent the last several years replacing/improving the builder-grade standards for basic structural elements in the "newer better" house. Now we're going back to another 130+ year old, rock solid beauty!

  • itsnotmeiswear Aug 2, 2011

    I live in Johnston and not Wake county, but the home inspectors do a very poor job of inspecting the work performed on these houses. My neighbor had a ceiling fan wired straight to the box. I had 5 flex duct runs not connected to vents, and an attic condensate line not glued. It eventually popped out and water started running out of a ceiling vent. The contractor was bad, and the inspector was lazy probably with a fat pocket.

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