Neighbor reports man fleeing site
Area neighbors swiftly exited their homes Friday afternoon after they said they heard loud cracking noises in the area.
The startling sounds echoed throughout the quiet, rural community as flames consumed bullets, a propane tank and every other possession located in and around an empty western Lincoln County residence, fire officials said.
Daryl Hall, one of three neighbors to contact local fire departments about the blaze, told the Times-News he was on his porch around 1:30 p.m. when he witnessed fire and smoke billowing high above the power lines surrounding the burning Knottywood Lane residence in Vale.
“It was hissing, and bullets were popping,” Paul Piedlow said. Piedlow lives on Cranberry Trail in a residence behind the damaged structure.
He was on his way back home from Lincolnton when he saw an orange glow from nearly a mile away on Cedar Grove Church Road.
“We could see it burning from the bridge,” he said.
While watching first-responders scramble around the scene, Piedlow, his two children and granddaughter stood in a nearby field Friday sorrowfully shaking their heads over the charred remains.
“I hate it had to happen at all,” he said.
Local resident Sherry Heavner said she witnessed someone running through the same field immediately following the home’s first flames.
“I came out my door to let my dogs out,” she said, “and I yelled for the person to get away from the trailer.”
At the time, Heavner didn’t know the person she spotted would be a potential culprit in the case, one now under investigation by the Lincoln County Fire Marshal’s Office and Sheriff’s Office.
Using the brief description Heavner gave them of the person she claimed she witnessed in the field, two Sheriff’s patrol units from the agency’s western Adam district said they unsuccessfully searched the area, turning up no leads.
North Brook Fire Chief Donald Hull told the Times-News he believed the fire commenced on the home’s porch, on the right side of the house, where fire crews continued to spray water after the incident to squelch any hot spots.
Firefighters from Union and Howards Creek along with Emergency Medicals Services assisted the scene.
The cause of the blaze has yet to be determined. However, Hull said it was a total loss.
Chickens die in blaze
In an unrelated incident, a fire also gutted an eastern Lincoln County man’s work shed Friday morning, taking the lives of his baby chicks.
Ben Lambert spoke few words to the Times-News while eyeing the scene. Less than an hour earlier, the detached shed on his Topaz Lane property in the Catawba Springs township was intact, filled with tools and other work items as well as baby chicks, part of a project Lambert said he had been working on.
He had no doubt an electric light, which he recently-purchased for the chicks’ growth, sparked the blaze.
“I figured it was faulty,” he said.
While the fire was contained to the shed, East Lincoln Fire Captain Lee Keever noted there was additional damage to the vinyl on the home’s left side, which due to the flames’ “tremendous convection heat,” had peeled away from the structure. Keever said if the wind had been blowing in a slightly different direction Friday morning, the residence would not have been so lucky.
“The whole side … would have been more damaged,” he said.
Fire officials added that one of firefighters’ primary concerns upon arriving on scene just before noon was to unchain two dogs whose house was situated only a few feet from the burning shed.
While fire officials were confident the incident was electrical in nature, they have not yet released an official cause at this time.
EMS also responded to the site along with three other area fire departments including Alexis, Denver and Lucia Riverbend, located in Mt. Holly.