Fire damages two houses, displaces residents

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 04:53 PM




Two early-morning fires damaged houses in western and eastern Durham Thursday, displacing the occupants but leaving them uninjured.

The first fire was at a modest, wood-frame house at 913 Rosehill Ave. in Old West Durham, a few blocks from the Hillsborough Road-Ninth Street area. Firefighters got the call at 1:18 a.m. and found flames shooting through the right side and the roof, Interim Chief Dan Curia of the Durham Fire Department said.

No one was inside, but the occupant arrived as firefighters were at the scene, Curia said.

The house appeared gutted Thursday afternoon, with charred furniture in the front yard, a hole in the roof and a rose bush standing in stark contrast to the blackened window opening behind it.

Curia said fire investigators were trying to determine what caused the blaze. He said the Red Cross was not called for help, and the single occupant apparently arranged temporary lodging.

Peggy Penny, who lives across the street, said the fire upset her.

“My son woke me up about 1 o’clock and said: ‘Mama, the fire trucks are out yonder – aren’t you awake?’ ” she said. “I said: ‘No, what happened?’ And he said: ‘A house is on fire.’ And then I got so upset, I couldn’t go back to sleep.”

Penny, who has lived in her Rosehill Avenue house since 1974, said her dog was also upset, “because he’s not used to noise during the night, and he was giving me a fit – hollering and barking.”

She said the occupant was a young man with a cat who rented the house, but she wasn’t sure of his name.

Penny said the fire’s heat melted the siding off a house next door.

She said she walked out to her porch as firefighters battled the blaze, and saw other neighbors on their porches.

“But there was so much going on, and so many lights flashing and so much smoke, that I just came back inside my house,” she said. “I’m just glad that nobody was at home and nobody got hurt. That’s the main thing.”

About 4 a.m., firefighters were called to a fire at 911 Jones Circle in eastern Durham County.

Chief Robert Andrews of the Bethesda Volunteer Fire Department said heavy flames were shooting through the roof when firefighters arrived and the two occupants had escaped without injury.

Andrews said the one-story brick house, on a rural dead-end road off Angier Avenue, was heavily damaged. The occupants arranged for temporary housing, he said.

Firefighters from the city and the Parkwood Volunteer Fire Department helped fight the fire. They cleared the scene at 6:15 a.m.