November 22, 2012

Fire destroys Walton home

Fire marshal says cause of rural Walton blaze undetermined.

by Caitlin Huston

WALTON — Fire destroyed most of a two-story home Tuesday evening.

The New Waverly and Walton fire departments got a call at 7:37 p.m. about the fire at 2622 E. 350 South. No one was injured in the fire and the cause of the fire will likely be undetermined, according to an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office.

When Walton Fire Chief Dan Birnell said his crew had no problem finding the fire.

“We could see the flames as we were heading out of town towards the fire,” Birnell said. “It was clearly visible several miles away.”

The New Waverly Fire Department arrived about the same time, and New Waverly Chief Kyle Anderson said they saw the front living area already burned down.

“There wasn’t a whole lot left,” Anderson said.  

The Clymers Fire Department was also on scene.

Anderson said the firefighters turned to fighting the flames that had spread to other parts of the house.

“We tried to cut it off in between the front area and where it had not entered into the other housing part yet,” Anderson said.  

The fire was under control in about one hour, Anderson said, but the portion of the house that wasn’t destroyed in the fire still suffered smoke and water damage.

The fire rekindled about 2 a.m., according to Walton Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Logan, and Walton firefighters returned and fought the flames for another two hours.

“We thought we had it the first time and apparently there was a couple little hot spots there,” Logan said.  

This time, the fires were small, like “a camp fire,” Logan said, but all of the hot spots were difficult to find.

Standing atop the debris Wednesday, Dennis Randle of the state fire marshal’s office said he believed the fire originated in the attic above the kitchen.

“It had a lot of time for it to burn there,” he said.

The front part of the house lay in charred ruins, with pieces of wood and metal piled up as the only remaining items from most of the house.

Randle and some of the New Waverly firefighters spent most of Wednesday digging through debris to determine the source of the fire.

“The way it’s looking now it will probably be undetermined,” Randle said.

So far, Randle said, he did not believe the fire would be ruled as arson.

“I have not seen any signs of that yet,” he said.

Homeowner Randy Barber stood by and watched as the firefighters worked on his house. Barber said he wasn’t home when the fire began, but that he received a call from a neighbor and returned to find his home in flames.

Barber had lived in the house for about eight years and said he was sad to see it in ruins.  

“I loved my big old house,” he said.

Barber said three upstairs bedrooms, a dining room and a porch were among the rooms destroyed. He added that he and his son, Randell, had lost most of their possessions in the fire.

“I don’t think there’s anything in the house that’s salvageable,” Barber said.

The younger Barber noted that his father lived through a house fire in another county in 1989.

“It’s not the first time,” Randell said.

What will father and son do now?

“Hopefully get another house,” the elder Barber said. “Start fresh.”

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or