Firefighters have busy week battling house, brush fires

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jul 10, 2019 - 12:12 PM

Photo: Firefighters battle a structure fire off Glebe Hall Road Tuesday morning. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Firefighters battle a structure fire off Glebe Hall Road Tuesday morning. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Photo: This house off Kitchener Drive in the Hunters Run neighborhood of Gloucester was heavily damaged by fire Friday evening. Photo courtesy Billy Hoercher

This house off Kitchener Drive in the Hunters Run neighborhood of Gloucester was heavily damaged by fire Friday evening. Photo courtesy Billy Hoercher

Photo: A brush fire near Woods Cross Roads destroyed a young grape vineyard and young fruit tree orchard on Friday. Photo courtesy Virginia Department of Forestry

A brush fire near Woods Cross Roads destroyed a young grape vineyard and young fruit tree orchard on Friday. Photo courtesy Virginia Department of Forestry

Local firefighters have been busy this week battling two house fires and two brush fires.

On Tuesday morning, a homeowner received a minor injury when his home off Glebe Hall Road caught fire around 10 a.m. According to J.D. Clements, chief of Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, Inc., the homeowner was grilling barbecue and ribs on an attached deck when he left the grill unattended next to the rear of the structure, going inside for a short period. Once inside, the homeowner realized his deck was on fire.

Clements said the major structural damage was contained to the right-rear corner of the house. However, there was significant water damage to the entire first floor of the home. There was also some fire and smoke damage to the second floor.

Clements said the house will be uninhabitable until significant structural repairs are made.

He said approximately 23 volunteers responded to the scene, along with six pieces of apparatus. Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad and Mathews Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid.

Friday house fire

No one was injured following a house fire on the 8300 block of Kitchener Drive in Gloucester on Friday evening. However, the home sustained heavy damage from the blaze.

Fire crews were dispatched just after 8 o’clock when a neighbor spotted flames coming from the attached garage of the home. There was one resident in the home at the time of the blaze who was unaware that there was a fire, according to Clements. By the time the neighbor knocked on the door to alert the resident, the fire had escalated, but the resident was got out safely, according to Clements. The fire did cause some damage to a neighboring home.

At the time of the house fire, GVFRS was on the scene of a brush fire in the northern part of the county. Blake Hudgins, a member of Mathews Volunteer Fire Department, happened to be in the Gloucester Court House area when he heard the call and volunteered to respond to assess the situation. “Without him doing this, I think things could have been much worse,” Clements said. 

According to Clements, GVFRS was on the scene within four minutes to begin battling the fire. In all, he said 35 volunteers responded to the scene along with eight pieces of apparatus. Abingdon Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad and MVFD responded in mutual aid.

Brush fire

Members of GVFRS and the Virginia Department of Forestry responded to a 22-acre brush fire off Cato Drive at Woods Cross Roads. According to Ken Sterner, senior area forester, the fire burned 15 acres of open land and seven acres of woods. 

Sterner said three homes were threatened, but GVFRS had knocked the fire down and eliminated the threat to those homes by the time forestry officials arrived. The fire did destroy a young grape vineyard and young fruit tree orchard; its cause is under investigation.

Earlier in the week, on the evening of July 3, Sterner said forestry officials and members of the AVFRS responded to a 10-acre brush fire off Zack Road at Hayes. He said the fire was spreading in the direction of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort, but was far enough away from threatening anything there. 

“We responded to that fire with one dozer to install a fire break and then conducted a back fire to contain that fire,” Sterner said. The cause of that fire is also under investigation.

“Both of the volunteer fire departments did a top-notch job through the heat and humidity we experienced,” he added. 

If anyone can provide information about either brush fire, call the local Virginia Department of Forestry office at 804-693-2880.