New Castle home fire not tenant caused |

New Castle home fire not tenant caused

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

NEW CASTLE – Old construction and dry, aged wood caused the fire that burned down a log home on Main Elk Creek Road Tuesday, Burning Mountains Fire Chief David Yowell determined Friday.

“The fire was not tenant-caused,” he said.

Yowell explained the log house, located at 3132 County Road 243 and occupied by Warren and Shirley Wailes, was heated solely by wood and coal stoves. Two combination wood/coal stoves were located in the living room and in the kitchen/dining room, respectively. A third, strictly coal stove was located in what Yowell described as the utility room, also part of the kitchen.

Yowell said both the wood and coal stoves had brick chimneys. The coal stove also had a metal stack where the chimney penetrated a house wall.

“Over the years, the wood in the wall around the metal stack deteriorated,” Yowell said. “Since the stoves were used to heat the house, the heat from the stove built up and reached an ignition point.

“It’s kind of like a loaf of bread,” Yowell described. “If you put bread in a heated oven for eight hours, it’s going to dry out as it sits in the oven. If you leave it in there, it may eventually ignite.”

Yowell said over the past two months, with daytime temperatures in the 30s and nighttime temperatures in the teens and 20s, the Wailes’ stoves were running pretty consistently. But he said there was no way the Wailes could have foreseen the problem.

“The chimneys were clean and maintained,” Yowell said. “They did nothing wrong. It was a case of old construction and deteriorated wood.”

The fire was reported by a UPS driver at approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. No people were at home or were injured by the fire. Two of the couple’s three dogs escaped from the blaze.

Yowell said the house is “completely gutted,” but some personal items were salvaged.

Alpine Bank in New Castle has set up a fund for the couple, who are staying with family members.

“Folks interested in donating money can go to any Alpine Bank in this area and mention the Wailes Family Fire Relief Fund,” said Judy Schaeffer, vice president and manager of the bank.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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