Two houses have been seriously damaged and one family has been displaced after a pair of fires broke out within six hours of each other in the Lake Monticello community in Fluvanna County on Monday.
“Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident,” Fluvanna County Fire Chief Richie Constantino said in a statement Tuesday.
The first fire was reported at 8:35 a.m. Monday at a residence on Axle Tree Road.
“The homeowner said he heard the ‘popping’ sounds through his windows. He then saw a red glow through the kitchen windows and realized a temporary polyethylene greenhouse on the rear deck protecting a tropical tree was burning,” Constantino reported.
The fire spread from the greenhouse to the wooden deck and then the wooden siding of the house, according Constantino, before burning through a wooden soffit and entering the attic of the house.
The homeowner reported the fire to 911, which dispatched the Lake Monticello, Palmyra and Fork Union fire departments.
It took less the four minutes for crews to arrive on the scene, Constantino said, where they found the homeowner battling the blaze with a garden hose.
“Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, made sure it hadn’t spread, and used a high-powered fan to remove the large amount of smoke in the attic and living spaces of the home,” Constantino said.
Once the flames were extinguished, the family was able to reoccupy their home.
Investigators with the Lake Monticello Fire Department have ruled the cause of the first fire accidental.
Mere hours after the first fire was reported, there were multiple reports of a second fire in the 800 block of Jefferson Drive roughly 2 miles away.
Crews arrived at the residence within two minutes, Constantino said.
“The firefighters attacked the fire with multiple hose lines, and after a short time knocked down the main body of fire,” he reported. “Hidden fire was trapped in the attic areas of the home and as firefighters tried to expose the fire and extinguish it, they found the integrity of the second floor to be uncertain.”
To protect the firefighters, Constantino said a tower ladder was used to deploy large-caliber water streams through the second-floor windows and eaves of the house, eventually extinguishing all visible flames. Firefighters were then able to reenter the home and expose the “hidden areas” to completely extinguish the fire.
Due to severe damage to the Jefferson Drive residence and its contents, the family there was not able to reoccupy the home.
The American Red Cross has placed the family in temporary housing.
The cause of the second fire is still under investigation, Constantino said.
“Investigators were unable to complete their investigation Monday night due to darkness and instability of the structure and safety considerations. Investigators returned to the scene Tuesday to complete their investigation.”