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Fire rips through townhouse

By Jeremy Borden / | 978-7263
January 26, 2008

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Firefighters attack a burning townhouse at 147 Woodlake Drive in Albemarle County.(The Daily Progress/Matthew Rosenberg)

Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin confirmed Sunday morning in a press release that a deceased victim was found on the second story of the townhouse. The release states that fire officials have reason to believe this is the unaccounted person. The victim's body will be sent to the state laboratory for an autopsy and identification.

A man remained unaccounted for after fire engulfed an Albemarle County townhouse Saturday night, as firefighters spent hours battling a blaze that lit up the structure’s entire façade.

Fire trucks crowded the road near 147 Woodlake Drive as the intense blaze drew dozens of residents - including those who were evacuated and others who gathered to watch.

Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston said on the scene near Four Seasons Drive that it was unclear how the fire started and that crews, as of about 9:15 p.m. Saturday, continued to fight a blaze that had begun more than an hour earlier. The second floor of the two-story townhouse collapsed, he said.

Eggleston did not know whether the unaccounted for man was trapped. He did not have the names of the people who lived in the townhouse.

Eggleston said the townhouse would likely be a total loss.

A man called in the fire at 7:57 p.m., Eggleston said, likely the same man who is unaccounted for and may have remained in the burning townhouse.

“We’re just not sure right now,” Eggleston said.

Every fire unit in the area responded, Eggleston said, and firefighters went to the blaze in teams. It appeared none of the other townhouses was heavily damaged, but residents were evacuated.

Scott Watson, a neighbor who lives two doors down from the blaze, said he was grilling chicken outside when he saw smoke. The second time he went outside to check on his grill, he said, he saw flames.

“All of a sudden, it got bigger, bigger and bigger and you could see smoke and the sky light up,” Watson said.

James Barber, with the Albemarle County Fire Department, said just before 10 p.m. that firefighters continued to try to confirm if anyone was trapped inside the townhouse.!news

Body found in home destroyed by fire

By Rob Seal / | 978-7265
January 28, 2008

A man trapped on the second story of an Albemarle County townhouse died in the fire that consumed the structure, authorities said Sunday.

Investigators with the county fire marshal’s office are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, which broke out Saturday evening at 147 Woodlake Drive.

Authorities have not released the identity of the man who died, but said they expect to do so after an autopsy is completed today.

“We do have reason to believe that it was an unaccounted-for occupant of the home,” said Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin.

Three people had lived at the townhouse, which is at the end of a row in the neighborhood off Four Seasons Drive.

A woman and a child escaped the fire, and Catlin said the Red Cross and a representative with the county’s Victim/Witness Assistance Office were on hand to help the survivors Saturday night.

“We know that arrangements have been made, but we’re really not sharing the details of those right now,” she said.

A 911 call alerted authorities to the fire about 7:50 p.m. Saturday, and firefighters were on the scene within five minutes.

Though the blaze destroyed the townhouse, it did not spread to nearby units and by Sunday evening most residents had returned.

Tom Murphy, who lives several houses down from the destroyed townhouse, said he’d known the man who died for about 20 years.

“He was a good neighbor,” said Murphy, who added that the man had two children, one of whom is in college.

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, was home Saturday and said the blaze started quickly.

“We didn’t hear the commotion until the fire people got here, and by then it was already in flames,” she said.

“All of us that knew them are very saddened for their loss. We’re all very sad.”

A bouquet of flowers and a small teddy bear lay near the caution tape that marked off the burned-out townhouse Sunday.

One Dead in Albemarle County Fire

Posted: Jan 26, 2008 09:43 PM

Updated: Jan 27, 2008 4:48 PM EST
One Dead in Albemarle County Fire

Firefighters spent Sunday rummaging through the charred debris an Albemarle County house, trying to figure out what sparked a deadly fire that clamed one life Saturday afternoon.

The blaze started shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday at the Four Seasons Townhomes development, which is located off Woodlake Drive near the Fashion Square Mall.

The body of an unidentified man was located by fire crews on the second floor of the apartment Sunday at 1:10 a.m. The body will be sent to the medical examiner's office in Richmond for identification.

Albemarle County Fire Chief Dan Eggleston said the body is believed to be of the person who made the last 911 call saying they were trapped, but that won't be confirmed until the body is identified.

Thirty people were evacuated for safety, but the fire was mostly contained to one apartment. Neighbors saw huge billowing smoke and flames and watched as crews did everything they could to fight the flames. Crews say solid constructed helped stop the fire from spreading.

Albemarle County spokesman Lee Catlin told us most of the neighbors were back in their homes Sunday. Some of them had to stay in hotels Saturday night because of safety concerns. The Red Cross also helped those families for the night.

Eggleston said there's no reason to believe the fire was deliberately set. He also said the fire may have been burning for some time before the 911 call came in, based on how far along the blaze was when firefighters got to the scene.

Reported by David Douglas

Scott (smcmullan) is posting updates and collecting pictures, memories, and disseminating information

  • Carz

    So when I took the car in last Tuesday to get the airco fixed, I asked them to take a look at the windows too. I thought it was probably a loose…

  • Wouldn't it be nice

    Hitting someone over the head actually did knock sense into their brains?

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    Feel free to post your whines here. If you want, you can post them anominously.

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