The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
FIREFIGHTERS HURT, 2 HOMES DESTROYED
BY BETTY HAYDEN SNIDER AND ROBYN SIDERSKY
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
One Spotsylvania County firefighter remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries Saturday morning and another had been treated and released after they were hurt while putting out a house fire in the Lake Anna area Friday night.
Phil Sullivan, a spokesman for Spotsylvania County fire and rescue, said a couple lost power at their Valentine Woods home sometime before 11 p.m Friday.
Jerry Burke, the owner of the home, said he was downstairs working around 10:30 p.m. and his wife had gone to bed when he heard something that sounded like a jet engine.
He said he wasn’t worried when the power flickered because it happens often where they live and especially during storms.
But the loud sound he heard was a fire that started in a kitchen wall behind the stove.
The couple used an extinguisher to put out the flames, and they believed they had succeeded, Sullivan said. They tried to call 911, but couldn’t get through because of problems with the communications system.
Worried there still might be a fire danger, the couple decided to drive to the closest fire station, which is in Partlow. On the way, they met a fire truck with a crew that had been out responding to damage calls.
By the time the crew arrived at the couple’s home on Waddell Road, the fire had re-ignited and flames were shooting through the roof, Sullivan said.
While firefighters attacked the blaze, part of the roof collapsed, trapping a firefighter, Sullivan said. A mayday call was issued, and the firefighter was pulled out.
A neighbor of the couple came over with his forklift to help pull the debris off the trapped firefighter.
The firefighter’s shoulders were burned and he received other unspecified injuries, Sullivan said. He was still a patient at Mary Washington Hospital Saturday morning.
A second firefighter injured his hand, but he was released from the hospital earlier Saturday.
Sullivan said fire investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause of the fire, which destroyed the home, but he believes it was storm-related.
Bill Nelson and Dorothy Broaddus, other neighbors of the Burkes, saw the fire.
They said they could see lightning all around the area and then heard the thunder.
Then they saw the house on fire.
“I tell you, it burned quickly, that’s what got me,” Nelson said.
They had storm damage of their own—their grill blew into the lake, and trees were down near the house.
The Burkes built the three-story house on the edge of Lake Anna 12 years ago. Jerry Burke called it their dream house.
“It took two years to build and an hour to burn down,” he said.
The couple’s dog, Rascal, made it out of the fire, along with the couple, uninjured.
County fire crews, who answered storm calls all night and into Saturday morning, had to fight a second house fire about three hours later and six miles away in another Lake Anna neighborhood, Sycamore Shoals.
Sullivan said no one was inside the vacation home when the fire started so officials aren’t sure when it started. A neighbor called 911 about 2 a.m.
When firefighters arrived, the home was engulfed in flames. It was destroyed.
Officials have not yet determined the value of the two homes.
Betty Hayden Snider: 540/374-5427