House fires leave two families homeless

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

Two house fires in two days have left two Brunswick County families homeless.


The first fire broke out inside an occupied mobile home Sunday afternoon, March 30, at 7084 Old Georgetown Road.

Sunset Beach Fire Chief Kevin Dempsey said the fire was reported at 4:11 p.m. at the single-wide home across the street from a Brunswick County EMS station.

People inside the home were able to escape, but two puppies died. A third puppy was saved by rescue workers who administered oxygen.

Dempsey said fire units arriving at the scene had the blaze under control within 15 minutes and contained to the laundry/kitchen area of the structure.

Initial investigation indicates the source of the fire to be a dryer malfunction.

“I’m not going to say for sure (but the fire) was in that area,” Dempsey said.

Residents at the address said they were drying clothes when they noticed smoke coming from that area, Dempsey said.

Dempsey said the home looks to be a total loss.

The residents were not able to stay there after the fire was extinguished because power to the unit had been shut off as a result of the heat and damage.

Dempsey said flames got onto the home’s roof and spread over the kitchen.

“The sheetrock is gone, but they got out and had a place to stay,” he said. “They did not require Red Cross (assistance). We asked them.”

Dempsey said his firefighters were returning from another possible structure fire in Ocean Isle Beach when they were called to the fire on Old Georgetown Road.

The first responding unit reported smoke at the scene and made entry to fight the fire. The unit received backup from another Sunset Beach unit as well as mutual aid from fire units out of Ocean Isle Beach, Grissettown Longwood and Calabash and the Emergency Medical Service.


House fire in Varnamtown

Another blaze broke out at midday Monday, March 31, at an occupied two-story house at 2727 Sunrise St. in Varnamtown.

Lt. David Ward with the responding Tri-Beach Fire Department said the fire, reported at 12:03 p.m., had engulfed the two-story stick-built home when firefighters arrived at the scene.

The home’s residents and three dogs were able to evacuate without incident or injury prior to the fire department’s arrival, Ward said.

The home, along with a detached two-car garage, was destroyed by the fire, which also damaged several vehicles. The fire was extinguished by 4 p.m.

The home’s residents, Donna and Scott Varnum, stood next door in a neighbor’s driveway viewing the charred remains of their home.

Donna Varnum said she was at work when the fire broke out at the residence, and her family and pets were able to escape.

Within 10 to 15 minutes of the fire breaking out, the structures were destroyed, she said, expressing gratitude that no one was injured.

“That’s all that matters, that’s what I told ‘em,” Donna Varnum said. “Items can be replaced. People can’t.”

She said they have a place to stay with her mom. The family was scheduled to meet with Red Cross officials in Shallotte the next day.

She said people had already been generous by bringing clothes to the family.

“They have been awesome,” she said.

Damages to the residence are estimated at $300,000, Ward said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Firefighters from Civietown, Supply, and Shallotte Fire Departments and units from Brunswick County EMS and Coastline Rescue responded to the scene to assist. Grissettown-Longwood Fire and Rescue provided stand-by coverage.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.