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Fires damage three Louisa homes as cold snap kicks in

Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Trevilians Volunteer Fire Department Captain Phillip Vanskike takes a break from knocking down a blaze on Dec. 30 at a home on Shellhorn Road. As temperatures dropped during the holiday season, residents spent more time in the kitchen cooking and using supplemental heat sources such as space heaters, gas logs, fireplaces and wood burning stoves. These are potential fire hazards if not used properly. Heating devices are suspected to have caused several house fires in the county during the past week.

Several Louisa County homes were heavily damaged by fire over the holidays, forcing residents outdoors just as the brutal cold air arrived.

No one was reported hurt in any of the fires, three of which are suspected to have originated in a fireplace, a chimney and a wood stove.

In most of the fires, the houses are a complete loss. A fire on Oak Grove Drive at Lake Anna on Dec. 28, which began in a fireplace at 1 p.m., spread through the wall and soon engulfed the roof. The homeowner was outside raking leaves when the fire started. A crew from station 2 in Mineral responded first and received assistance with water from Bumpass station 3.

A Jan. 1 blaze in the 3000 block of Three Chopt Road, near Gum Spring, left an older man believed to be in his late 70s homeless as temperatures dipped into the teens. The man is staying with family in the area, according to Marty Hart, Holly Grove Volunteer Fire Department chief.

That fire started around 5 p.m., possibly when material close to a wood stove caught fire, though Hart said the investigation into the precise cause was not complete as of Tuesday.

Holly Grove and other responding fire companies had some trouble with the weather. The pump on one truck froze, Hart said. His agency received assistance from Goochland County firefighters and several other Louisa stations.

A Dec. 30 fire on Shellhorn Road, near Gordonsville, drove a man and his son out in the cold. The boy lost his Christmas presents, for which the family is now raising money online at https://www.gofundme.com/biglil-welshys-fire-rescue-fund to try to replace.

As of Tuesday, the cause of the fire, which was reported at 1 p.m., was undetermined. Trevilians and Gordonsville volunteer fire departments were the lead responding agencies.

The fourth significant house fire, on Dec. 26 on Pointer Lane in the Green Springs area, originated in a chimney, Keith Greene, Louisa County Fire/EMS chief, said. He did not believe the home was totaled.

Firefighters also put out two brush fires during the last eight days of the year at Blue Ridge Shores and on Shannon Hill Road. The Dec. 28 fire at Blue Ridge Shores, on North Lakeshore Drive, briefly threatened several nearby structures. It was likely caused by smoldering ashes from a controlled burn.

Such fires are not unusual at this time of year with all the fallen leaves on the ground, Greene said. He noted that conditions have been dry and windy, characteristic of the winter fire season.