CIRCLEVILLE — Seven hours after an early morning fire, the smell of burnt materials still permeated the property at 205 Pontious Lane.
A young man who emerged from the back of the single-family home and detached garage declined to comment about the events of the day saying the family was busy cleaning and gathering up their possessions. His politeness belied the scene, whose opening act started sometime around 6:45 a.m. by what authorities suspect was a fire started by the storms that came through the area Tuesday morning.
“The cause could be weather related as a storm with lots of lightning came through at the time of the fire,” Circleville Fire Chief Brian Thompson said. “It looks like the fire started at the peak of the house where the porch is and spread both ways, toward the breezeway and garage at one end and the other way toward the kitchen.”
Thompson said the kitchen area is destroyed and the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage. He said the house, appraised at looks to be a total loss. Thompson said he called the state Fire Marshal to investigate the cause.
Tragedies like this are almost always punctuated by a lot of what-ifs. What if it hadn’t stormed or what if the police didn’t get there fast enough to help two women in the home escape? It could have been worse. It always can be worse. But luckily, this time it wasn’t.
The home, built in 1965, is owned by Linda Conrad. She, her daughter, Peggy Conrad, and her husband, Ray Conrad live together in the structure appraised at $85,760, according to Pickaway County property records.
At the time of the fire, Linda and Peggy were still sleeping. Ray had gone to work. They did not know that a fire had started. Circleville Police arrived to the burning house Tuesday morning, woke them up and got them out.
Police Sgt. Matthew Hafey said officer Andrew Baitzel was first on scene and he found a garage fully engulfed in flames. He said Baitzel went inside the house and evacuated the Conrads.
The house sits back on a long and separate lane that runs west of Pontious Lane and cannot be seen from the road. Thompson said there was only enough room to get one engine down the lane.
“We have a 500-foot hose that is laid from the hydrant on Pontious Lane down the lane to the house,” Thompson said. The other engines were stationed on Pontious Lane where they hooked up to hydrants and ran their hoses down the lane to the house.”
With four firefighters on duty Circleville was in the middle of a shift change that allowed them to have five firefighters plus the chief at the scene. Circleville received mutual aid from Pickaway Township with medic, Harrison Township with engine, Scioto Township with engine and chief, Clearcreek Township with medic, engine and grass truck.
Chief Thompson said 24 fire and EMS personnel responded to the scene plus BOX65 Scene Support Unit. Red Cross was also there to provide help for the family.
The Red Cross was on the scene and has provided the family monetary assistance.
Editor Craig Lovelace contributed to this article.