house in Buxton,
starts brush fires...WITH
VIDEO and SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
fire at a house in Buxton in the vicinity of Rocky Rollinson Road today
severely damaged the structure, started several brush fires, and caused
a closure of Highway 12 in the area for several hours.
which was reported about 12:30 p.m., was at the home of Courtney and
Melissa Whitehead at 47660 Highway 12. It was a three-story, newly
constructed house where the couple lived with their three
Bryan Perry, chief of the Buxton Volunteer
Fire Department, said all three floors of the house were badly damaged
and that the roof was destroyed.
Today's weather didn't work in
favor of the firefighters. It was hot, humid, and very dry
southwest winds blowing at about 18 with gusts to 22 mph.
Perry said that burning embers from the house started multiple brush
fires in the area.
Frisco, and Hatteras fire departments were on the scene, along with a
brush truck and crew from Avon. Another crew from Avon and
Salvo Volunteer Fire Department were on standby in case there should be
another fire call in any of the villages.
"All of the departments on the island responded," Perry said, with
trucks and/or firefighters or standby duty.
Also on the scene was the North Carolina Forest Service.
Perry said that despite the weather, there were no casualties from the
heat among the firefighters.
"A couple had to sit out for a while, but that's all," he said.
cause of the fire hasn't been determined, the chief said. At
about 5:30, he said that the firefighters were still on the scene
extinguishing hot spots. He said the fire department would monitor the
scene for hot spots during the night.
Highway 12 traffic was
routed for several hours onto the Buxton Back Road from PNC Bank on the
north to the Crossroad near Buxton Village Books on the south.
fire did not spread to any other structures -- even with the gusty
winds -- but for a while, Rick and Wendy Riopel of Buxton were sweating
heavily while trying to protect a rental house they own across a canal
and to the east of the fire.
A neighbor alerted the Riopels to the fire. They rushed to
the scene, and they are glad they did.
"It (the fire) jumped the canal and came over to our side," Wendy said
late this afternoon.
husband kept putting out the hot spots with a garden hose until a fire
department brush truck and the Forest Service arrived.
The southwest wind, she noted, was just right for bringing the fire
"The embers and chunks of things kept blowing into our yard and landing
on the deck," she said.
house is rented this week, Wendy Riopel said, but the renters were at
the beach or fishing for the day and didn't find out about the close
call until they arrived home in the late afternoon.
Even so, Wendy said that she'd rather that her family lost a rental
house than to have a family lose their home.
"They (the Whiteheads) are going to need some help," she said. "I'm
sure they are just in shock right now."
Luckily, she added, they live in a community that is known to rally
around those in need.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDE SHOW
Video by Hunter Thomas