House fire probe continues

By John Peters - [email protected]

Nearly a week after a mother and her daughter escaped a late-night house fire near Mount Airy, local officials have not determined the cause of the blaze.

”We’re still working on it; it’s still under investigation,” said Surry County Fire Marshall Doug Jones Tuesday.

The fire broke out late Thursday night in the home at 359 Smith Road, off of U.S. 601 between Mount Airy and Dobson.

At that time, Surry County Fire Inspector Jason Burkholder said a woman and her daughter were able to escape the burning home after smoke detectors woke them up around midnight.

“When they heard the smoke detectors, they got up, smelled smoke and saw a glow of the fire,” he said. “They exited the house and called 911.”

Within minutes, firefighters were on the scene, but by that time flames were already shooting through the roof of the structure.

He said there was no question in his mind the smoke detectors saved their lives.

Speaking the next day, he said his office was on the scene, sifting through the wreckage of the house for clues as to its origin.

“It somewhat appears to be exterior in nature, but that’s still under investigation.”

On Tuesday, Jones would not comment on whether authorities still suspected the fire began outside the house.

“It’s still under investigation,” he repeated as the only reply he would make regarding what direction the probe might be leaning. He said the length of time that has elapsed since the fire without a determination is not unusual.

“There is no set time (for a determination),” he said. “Sometimes we know before we leave the scene the first time, other times it can take a week or a month.”

Other than stating the home and contents were a total loss, he said his department had put no monetary value on the losses.

The home belonged to Joseph Paul Hutchins Jr., who was not at the house at the time of the blaze. There were no injuries reported in the fire.

By John Peters

[email protected]

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