Couple escaped blaze that destroyed home


Johnnie and Mary Jones escaped the Sept. 3 blaze that destroyed their home. (Photos by Randy Hundley, Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department.)

By Brandon Martin

Multiple fire crews and other first responders were among those summoned to an explosion and ensuing blaze at 1524 Kenmar Drive in Martinsville.

Andy Powers, deputy fire marshal for Martinsville Fire and EMS, said the call was received around 6:42 p.m. on Sept. 3.

“We arrived on scene within 10 minutes,” joining officers with the Martinsville Police Department, who were first on the scene.

Slightly before the explosion and the subsequent blaze that demolished the house, Powers said the couple who lived at the residence, Johnnie and Mary Jones, were able to escape.

“Fortunately, they noticed in time and were able to escape the house before the fire got bad,” Powers said, adding that the house had started to collapse approximately 10 minutes after the fire had started.

The Jones’ “were so lucky just because of how fast the fire spread. They followed the basics of what we like to teach in schools about fire safety, and thankfully there were no casualties or injuries,” Powers said.

The main concern at the scene was setting up a water supply line and surrounding the structure “so we could maintain it there and not have it affect any of the properties around it,” Powers said. The fire “was mostly under control by the end of the day.”

Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene, along with other crews that included the Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department, Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department, Henry County Department of Public Safety, Southwestern Virginia Gas Company and Martinsville Public Works.

“Everyone worked together really well, and they set up the water supply immediately like they were supposed to,” Powers said.

According to a press release issued by the gas company after the blaze, “an investigation of the natural gas distribution system in the area did not indicate the presence of any hazardous leaks. As the investigation turns its focus to inside the home the company will continue to work with state and local officials to help determine the root cause of this incident.”

Powers said that the fire could have been caused by a “propane cylinder out back” that “was hot” and emitting gas, the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

“It was an unfortunate incident, but luckily there were no casualties and we were able to maintain the perimeter,” Powers said. I’m really proud of the effort of everyone involved, including the couple themselves.”

While most of the fire had been contained by 2 a.m. on Sept. 4, Powers said some flames remained “under void spaces that were made from the roof falling down.

Those areas were neutralized by noon, according to Powers, who added that Martinsville Public Works provided a backhoe to move debris away so the blaze could be completely neutralized.

Johnnie and Mary Jones escaped the Sept. 3 blaze that destroyed their home. (Photos by Randy Hundley, Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department.)

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