02/16/04 — Chief's home burns

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Chief's home burns

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on February 16, 2004 2:03 PM

Friday the 13th was not a good day for Indian Springs Fire Chief Leroy Blizzard.

He had just returned from an uneventful business trip, and then his house at 2727 Indian Springs Road caught on fire.

"We have a lot to be thankful for," Blizzard said today. "We could have been asleep and not known it."

Assistant Fire Phil Shivar said Blizzard helped control the fire with a garden hose until Indian Springs and Dudley volunteers arrived within minutes.

"I couldn't get in the attic because of the smoke," Blizzard said. That's where the most damage was.

The initial damage estimate was $60,000 to the home and $20,000 to contents, and Blizzard said it could be more. He said the structure was damaged heavily but could be rebuilt.

"It was more devastating that we first thought," he said.

Blizzard credited the quick response of firefighters to preventing more damage.

"We were looked after real good," he said.

The family saved a lot of personal property, he added.

The home was valued at $130,000 and contents at another $50,000.

An outdoor furnace was blamed for causing the blaze. Blizzard said the fire radiated from the flue to the edge of the roof and started in the attic.

"The furnace had been used for 20 years, and the flue had been replaced," the chief said. "It was not a burn-through, but just radiant heat."

Blizzard and his wife got outside when they saw the fire, and she called their son who lives across the road and called 911 on their cell phone. Their daughter was not home. The first fire truck arrived within about two minutes.

Now the Blizzards' biggest worry will be the inconvenience while the home is being cleaned and repaired.

Twenty-three Indian Springs firefighters answered the call at 9:47 p.m. with five trucks. They controlled the fire within 25 minutes and needed three more hours to investigate the cause and finish salvage work. About 10 Dudley volunteers offered mutual aid with two trucks, officials said.

"Usually I'm on the other end," Blizzard said. "Now I have a first-hand experience."

Just before the fire, Blizzard had returned home from Ohio.

"I'm not superstitious about Friday the 13th, but I won't forget it now," the chief said. "And the business trip was not all that good either."