Grottoes Area Home Burns
Residents Of Converted Schoolhouse ‘Lost Everything’ In Blaze
Posted: February 8, 2013
Smoke drifts skyward Thursday morning from a home on East Side Highway, south of Grottoes, that was destroyed by fire overnight. The home was converted from a former brick schoolhouse. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Little remains of a home south of Grottoes that burned early Thursday. Originally a schoolhouse, the home was a total loss. No one was injured in the blaze.
Her mother, Jen Breeden, her mother’s friend, Bane Puckett, and her 45-year-old brother, Roy Breeden Jr., lived at the home about two miles south of Grottoes in Augusta County. Her brother was the only one inside when the fire started.
“They lost everything … their clothes, furniture,” the Grottoes resident said. “But they’re alive. That’s the main thing.”
Assistant Fire Chief Chandler Hardy of the Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department said firefighters from surrounding areas were dispatched around 1 a.m. to the home at 3763 East Side Highway, near the intersection with Patterson Mill Road.
Firefighters were on the scene within 10 minutes, he said.
But it was already too late to save the home.
“We saw fire coming out the front door extending up to the roof,” he said, adding that firefighters began attacking the blaze, trying to stop it from spreading. “It was pretty well advanced. Once it got to the roof, it was hard to control.”
Wanda Morris said her brother barely escaped the fire, perhaps owing his life to his dog, Cocoa.
After taking Cocoa out for a walk, Roy Breeden returned to the home and smelled smoke. When he opened his mother’s bedroom to check, he was bombarded by smoke.
Breeden grabbed his cellphone and the dog and bolted from the house. Everything he left behind was destroyed.
“My brother didn’t even have shoes on when he got out of the house,” said Morris, who added that the home’s three occupants are staying with family and the American Red Cross is helping them out.
Hardy said the fire is being investigated by the Virginia State Police. A cause hadn’t been determined as of Thursday.
Morris said she believes the fire started in the basement because her brother said the floor was hot when he walked on it and the smoke seemed to be rising from the floor.
The home, which the family said wasn’t insured, was a total loss. A damage estimate was unavailable.
While Morris is thankful no one was injured, she said it’s sad seeing a part of history destroyed. Many in the community still referred to the home as the “old schoolhouse,” she said. Morris wasn’t sure when it was built.
“My great-granddaddy drove the school bus here,” she said.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org