Local News

Garner house fires spark neighborhood concern

Posted August 1, 2011 11:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2011 3:16 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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."