Local News

Fire Sweeps Through Homes in Rolesville Neighborhood

Posted August 21, 2007 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2007 7:28 a.m. EDT

— 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.