A house fire in the Carrington Woods neighborhood Wednesday morning displaced seven residents after causing what is estimated to be more than $100,000 damage.
Casandra Bell and six other adult residents of the 102 Brookfield Drive home avoided harm in the incident, while one firefighter had minor burns to his ears, according to Knightdale fire Chief Tim Guffey.
Guffey said the seven residents were coming out of the home with black smoke following them when his department arrived at the scene four minutes after Bell reported the blaze, about 10 a.m.
“It was through the roof on the back side when we arrived,” Guffey said.
Officials said it began with Bell emptying cigarette butts into a garbage bag early Wednesday morning. Bell, who lived on the second floor of the home, reportedly took the garbage bag into an unfinished, walk-in attic space on the second floor and left it unattended.
“A few hours later, closer to 10 a.m., she heard a smoke detector going off and made the assumption it was downstairs, but she went back upstairs and opened the attic space and had a fire there where the trash bag had been,” Guffey said.
Guffey said several factors then created conditions for fire to spread quickly.
He said Bell left the attic door open while she went back downstairs to get her father, and by the time she returned to the second floor the fire had spread into the finished space.
“Between the open door and all the vents in the attic space, it gave it all the air that it needed to grow pretty rapidly,” Guffey said.
On initial entry into the home, water sprayed up to the “very hot and smoky” second floor converted to steam and washed back over Knightdale firefighter Jason Pope, penetrating the fabric on his hood and burning his ears, Guffey said. He said Pope was treated for minor injuries at the scene.
Firefighters also saved two cats from the fire.
Officials said firefighters remained at the scene for more than four hours. Mutual aid came from the Wendell, Eastern Wake and Wake New Hope fire departments and Eastern Wake EMS. American Red Cross crews were also dispatched to assist the residents.
Guffey estimated the value of the home to be about $140,000, considering second-floor and basement improvements to the originally one-story home. Wake County tax records indicate the rental home is owned by Tina Motley, and was built in 1985.
The Brookfield Drive residence has caught fire before – now three times in a little more than the past decade, according to the chief.
He said a kitchen fire that spread through the downstairs in the early 2000s also caused damages in the $100,000 range, including smoke damage to the second floor.
“Maybe three years ago, lightning ran down a tree and into the right side wall of the house,” Guffey said. “(The occupants) caught it quick enough to prevent the fire from reaching the attic.”