By JOY CRIST
A fire that started at around 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon destroyed an oceanfront home in Waves on Sea Isle Hills Drive in roughly an hour, leaving only a shell of the structure behind. The main fire was extinguished by 2:37 p.m., with multiple Volunteer Fire Departments, police, and county agencies reporting to the scene.
Stephen Simon was one of four individuals who were in the vacation home at the time, and who escaped without injuries just minutes before the fire spread.
“It looked like it started outside,” he said. “I had been out there 90 minutes before it started, picking up garbage around the pool, and I heard a noise and thought it was just getting windy, or that something was splashing.”
“There were only four of us in the home at the time, just relaxing – the rest were out and about on road trips.”
Simpson reports that moments after hearing the strange wind sound, he saw that an entire wall in the ground level basement area was on fire.
“We all met in the foyer and got out safely,” he said. “[One guest] who was upstairs came running downstairs from the kitchen with a knife in his hand, because he was in the middle of making a steak sandwich. By the time we got down the steps and outside, it was everywhere.”
There were no injuries reported, and all four vacation guests in the home evacuated safely. “The worst thing is that I now have to buy shoes and a shirt,” said Simpson, who waited at a neighbor’s house across the street in his swimming trunks. “And I grabbed my phone(s), but left my wallet.”
Simpson’s family is from Fredericksburg, V.A. and Baltimore, M.D., and vacation at the Outer Banks every two years. He says that neighbors, as well as the property management company that represents the home, have offered his family a place to stay in the interim.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, although Simpson believes it may have been electrical. Volunteer Fire Departments from Rodanthe, Salvo, Avon, Buxton and Roanoke Island all responded to the fire, as well as the Dare County Fire Marshall, the Dare County EMS, the Dare County Sheriff’s Department, Cape Hatteras Electric Company, and the Dare County Water Department.
Crews remained at the scene after the main fire was extinguished on Thursday afternoon to put out any remaining pockets of fire in the destroyed structure. An investigation into the cause is forthcoming.
“We’re still trying to get this fire out, and to make sure that two hours later, we’re not called back to the scene,” said Steve Kovacs, Dare County Fire Marshall. “So much damage has been done to the structure, that it may be several days before we can determine the cause. We can’t get in to investigate right now.”
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