The Durham Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire at 503 Valleymede Drive at 1:37 p.m. Tuesday after it was reported by off-duty Durham Police Department Cpl. Dante Ferrell.
Ferrell was on his lunch break, noticed the smoke, and investigated. He immediately reported a heavily-involved house fire.
Ferrell saw a dog inside the house near the front door, so he forced open the door and the dog, a Goldendoodle named Griffin, ran out uninjured. When firefighters arrived they reported a two-story home with heavy fire along the roofline and fire on the exterior rear of the house.
The fire was under control in about 20 minutes, but caused heavy damage to the house. Most of the roof burned off or collapsed onto the second floor. There was heavy fire damage to parts of the first floor as well. Water damage was extensive throughout the house. There was damage to the vinyl siding on the neighboring homes.
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There were no injuries and the American Red Cross was not requested.
Thirty-five firefighters including an engine and two Battalion Chiefs from Durham County Fire-Rescue responded to the call and were on scene for about four and a half hours.
The cause of the fire was ashes from a grill that were placed in a yard waste container. The homeowner felt the ashes in the morning and thought they were cool, but ashes may seem cool on the surface and still be hot in the center.
DFD Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi said such fires are not uncommon.
“We have 5-10 such fires each year in Durham and there are hundreds more throughout the country,” Iannuzzi said. “If you are going to place ashes in a container it is best to wet them down and stir them, always use a metal container with a metal lid, and never place them within a few feet of other combustible materials such as the siding on the house.”