- Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:10
- Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:10
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On Saturday, May 11, Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department (CBVFD) conducted a controlled-burn of a 100-year-old house on Jackson St. This was a training exercise, and had been requested by the current owner, Joyce Gunderson. The old house sparked some controversy after the town asked Gunderson to have it removed because it had been determined by the town to be unrepairable. Gunderson, along with some members of the CB Historical Society, believed that the house was the first African-American home in Colonial Beach. According to Town Manager Val Foulds, no documentation was presented to the town to support that fact. Mitzy Saffos of the CB Historical Society confirmed that contractors (hired by Gunderson) said that the house could not be repaired.
The fire was set early in the morning. The majority of the house burned quickly, wth the back chimney being knocked down by the powerful jets of water from the firemen’s hoses. The front chimney, however, wasn’t going down without a fight. It took almost five minutes of powerful spray to start the two-story brick monument to begin rocking, and finally giving way. The remains of the building continued to smolder throughout the day, in spite of repeated rain showers. Both the CB Police Department and the CBVFD kept checking the structure throughout the day to ensure that it did not reignite.
CBVFD Chief David Robey said that the burning structure could not be utilized for full training since most of the floors, windows and doors had already been removed. The firefighters still got some training in by keeping the flames away from nearby trees. No other structures or trees where damaged during the exercise.
Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad Medic 1-8 assisted with the training by stationing at the scene.
On Friday, May 10, Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department (CBVFD) was dispatched to the 1200 block of Lossing Ave. for a car on fire. Nearby resident and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Scott Gast and his grandmother Olga Farneth heard a loud explosion while in their back yard. When Gast got to the street, he noticed Danny Clay trying to open the hood of his pickup truck while flames were shooting up from under the hood.
Gast called 911 and warned Clay to get away from the vehicle. When CB Police arrived on the scene (just before CBVFD), Clay was still trying to get his hood open. The CB police officer also warned the man to get away from the burning vehicle. CBVFD arrived a few minutes later, and began to work on the fire. Flames shot up from under the hood, and dark black smoke billowed several hundred feet into the air.
Clay said that he had just recently put in a new clutch, transmission and two new front tires. As he arrived home that morning, he got out of the truck, and was greeted by his dog. Soon after, his girlfriend greeted him and told Clay that his truck was on fire. Clay said that he told her, “No it’s probably just the radiator overheating.” But then she told him that she saw flames. Clay said he thought if he could just get the hood open, he could put the fire out with the garden hose. “But the flames were too hot for me to get my hand on the latch,” Clay admitted.
Because the truck was too old to have full-coverage auto insurance, Clay says that the vehicle is a total loss. Luckily, no one was hurt by the fire.