Friday, 17 May 2019 16:29

Chief: Insulation helped fire spread in old Hamlet home

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It took the Hamlet Fire Department more than five hours to clear the scene of a house fire on Entwistle Street Thursday night into Friday morning. It took the Hamlet Fire Department more than five hours to clear the scene of a house fire on Entwistle Street Thursday night into Friday morning. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Fire crews spent five and a half hours Thursday night into Friday morning making sure they extinguished a fire at a century-old home.

Hamlet Fire Chief Calvin White said there was heavy smoke and flames showing when his department arrived around 9:10 p.m.

The chief said there were 17 firefighters — about half the department — on scene until 2:44 a.m.

The majority of the action was on a second-floor room on the left side of the house, where White believes the fire started.

“It quickly extended to the roof line and about halfway across the roof underneath the insulation,” he said. “It extended to the back portion of the house, also.”

Around 10 p.m. a small flame flickered through the roof just above the room that had burned. Then, about a half-hour later, another flame had to be extinguished on the opposite end of the house.

“Anytime there’s blown-in insulation, it doesn’t matter what type of house or building it is, that insulation actually acts as a conduit for fire,” White said. “It’ll run along the tops of it … it’ll burn down a couple of inches and run underneath it … insulation like that works very well as long as it’s in proper (condition). Once it catches fire, that stuff is terrible.”

There was only one person home at the time, believed to be a family member, White said.

The chief had crews of four rotating going inside the structure where they faced heavy smoke and intense heat.

“That’s a very old house, but it’s a very well-made house,” he said. “It basically traps all the heat and smoke inside of it until it vents itself. So it was very intense for an extended period of time.

“That’s the reason we had to go through so many air packs and quite a few personnel.”

White, himself, spent quite a bit of time inside.

The chief said there were no injuries — “Thank the Lord.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Hamlet Police Department.

Mayor Bill Bayless, who was on the scene Thursday night, said the three-story house on Entwistle Street was built in 1911.

“You could look at the woodwork and all that inside the house and it was a very well-made house — it would have been beautiful back in its day,” White said. “I hate to see anybody’s house burn, but properties like that — my goodness.”