By Paul Hemmer
YOUNGSVILLE January 19, 2001 A Youngsville family escaped with their lives as they fled their burning home on Menges Road shortly after noon on Monday.
Mary Edwards and her son Mathew, 5, were watching TV downstairs after lunch while her 9-month-old son Nathaniel slept upstairs. Mathew went to the kitchen and immediately returned, calling for his father, Neil, who was at work at the time of the blaze.
Getting up to see what was troubling Mathew, Mary found the laundry room just off the kitchen to be on fire and full of smoke. Acting quickly, she took Mathew outside the house and re-entered the burning structure to retrieve Nathaniel from upstairs.
By the time I got downstairs with Nathaniel, the whole house was full of smoke, Edwards said. We got out just in time.
With her children safe, she took them next door to her father-in-laws house and called the fire department. The 911 Center dispatched Youngsville Fire Department at 12:34 p.m., mobilizing firefighters and equipment to the scene. While responding to the firehouse to bring a truck to the scene, Youngsville Past Chief Tom Bose had to pass the burning structure to get to the firehouse. I stopped when I saw Mary and her kids standing outside and asked if everyone got out OK, Bose said. The flames were rolling out the front door at that time.
Once he confirmed everyone was safe, Bose continued on to the firehouse and returned with one of Youngsvilles engines.
The first officer on the scene, 1st Assistant Chief Randy Baim, arrived to find the fire progressing rapidly.
When I got on the scene, the bulk of the fire was in the back of the house and flames were rolling out the front door, Baim said. Calling the Control Center to confirm a working structure fire, Baim requested a second alarm from his department and manpower and a rescue from Jeffersonville to assist at the scene. According to Baim, Youngsville's first engine set up initial attack while the second engine laid a 3 supply line in from Kimmes pond some 400 feet away. Youngsvilles mini pumper handled the supply of water, feeding both engines at the scene from Kimmes pond. Firefighters then stretched the first 1 3/4 line to the back of the house and the second line to the front of the house, attacking the fire in earnest.
While the fire was knocked down on the first floor, its rapid spread through the homes balloon construction soon had flames racing through the second floor and attic. Soon after Jeffersonville rescue and manpower arrived at the scene to assist, a second call was put out for an engine and additional manpower from Jeffersonville to supplement the firefighters already fighting th blaze.
The smoky fire kept close to 40 firefighters at bay for well over an hour while they had to tediously remove walls and ceilings inside the house and parts of the roof outside to reach the flames hidden in the walls and a small attic. A tremendous effort of both interior and exterior attack started to stem the tide, and the firefighters efforts soon paid off.
Though still standing, the house was gutted by the intense, fast-moving fire, leaving little to salvage. During the course of the firefighting operations, an engine and manpower from White Sulphur Springs were on stand-by duty at the Youngsville fire station while a crew and a rig from the Jeffersonville Volunteer First Aid Corps stood by at the scene. No injuries were reported during the firefighting operations.
County fire investigators were called to the scene to assist in determining the cause of the blaze, which is still under investigation.
Standing outside watching the firefighting efforts, Mary Edwards was nevertheless thankful. The four most precious things in the house are safe, she said of her family.
It is not known if the Edwards plan to rebuild their home. In the meantime, they will be staying with family in Youngsville.