Vandalia Leader

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Electrical fire burns home on owner’s birthday

Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

After the house burned, firefighters continued to battle the blaze, forcing them to return several times throughout the day.

Five house pets were killed Wednesday, July 25, in an electrical house fire at the address of 49777 Hummingbird Lane, north of Vandalia.
The blaze killed Celia Graves’ five dogs and ended in the total loss of her home, which had been in the family for 30 years.
The home burned on Graves’ birthday. She was not present when the fire started and remained physically unharmed.
“I got a call. I get here, and it’s gone,” Graves said. “ I lost everything.”
Vandalia Fire Chief Rusty Strother said the Vandalia, Farber, and Perry Volunteer Fire Districts responded to the fire at 1:51 p.m.
Four firemen where treated for dehydration at the scene. One of the firemen was with treated with an IV. Grass also caught fire beneath a Farber fire truck, resulting in little damage.
Graves said she believed the fire started in the garage. The home sat on six-and-a-half acres with the home in close proximity to the garage.
Graves’ brother and sister-in-law lived in a trailer at the back of the property, which didn’t burn. Both family members were unharmed.
“My brother tried and tried to get the dogs,” Graves said. “But he couldn’t get them out.”
The fire jumped across Hummingbird Lane into a field near the UE right of way, but the field fire was quickly doused before more damaged occurred.
“With this kind of weather, it’s rough,” Fire Chief Strother said. “We’re blessed we haven’t had (a fire) like this.”
“We hate it for the family and wish we could have knocked it down,” Fire Chief Strother said. “But there was no other way.”
Graves complained that the volunteer fire crews had been laughing while working to control the blaze.
“This isn’t funny,” she said. “I lost everything.”
Fire Chief Strother said he doesn’t know who was laughing but assured that whatever laughing occurred was not toward Graves’ loss.
“If there’s any laughter on a scene, it has to do with one of us,” Fire Chief Strother said.
“There’s times when we’re changing gear and someone may trip over a hose — we’ll poke fun at that.”

“We’d never make light of someone’s loss,” he said. “That never enters the thoughts of these guys.”