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A two-story home that had withstood the elements for more than 250 years has been claimed by one of three fires that destroyed three homes during the weekend.
All three unrelated fires are still under investigation.
The first fire was reported at 6:10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, near the intersection of Oxpen and Boones Neck Road in Supply. Investigators are calling it “suspicious.”
According to Brunswick County Fire Marshal Scott Garner, a passerby called 911 and reported a possible barn fire.
“When firefighters arrived, they found a vacant house fully engulfed in flames,” Garner said.
The home, on the Jesse Robinson Century Farm, was destroyed. All that remains is a badly damaged brick fireplace and ashes.
Constructed of knotty pine, the uninhabited home was filled with antiques and pieces of Brunswick County history. It had no electricity.
The owners were out of town when they received a call the home was on fire.
“Talk about a heart-dropper,” said Tommy O’Brian Robinson, grandson of owner Tommy G. Robinson.
The initial report was one of the barns was on fire. The Robinsons keep farm equipment and a horse in the barns. Because of the close proximity of the structures they feared if one was on fire they would lose them all.
When they found out it was the old home they were relieved but saddened.
“As invaluable as it might have been to others, it was just irreplaceable to us,” Robinson said as he looked over the ashes of the home his grandfather grew up in. “I had plans to save the heart pine and hand-sewn seals to incorporate into my new home I am going to build. Now it’s all gone. It even got the pecan trees. It wasn’t for somebody else to decide. Somebody had to have set it.”
Robinson said his grandfather had recently burned a fire path around the home to prevent something like this from happening.
Robinson believes the home was built in the 1700s. The senior Robinson grew up there with his six siblings.
A former free-standing kitchen for the home had been converted into a pea house to grow peanuts to feed hogs, and a single-story kitchen was added to the home.
“Grandpa would always say, ‘Many a Christmas dinners were cooked here,’” Robinson said as he pointed to where the kitchen used to be.
All that remains of the kitchen now are charred ashes and remnants of what was once a sink.
One of the bedrooms had a solid maple bed and dresser the Robinsons found after Hurricane Hazel.
The furniture was on the mainland after the storm. The Robinsons put it back together.
Other nostalgic items included a horse-drawn wagon, a water pump and more.
The once-two-story home had a tin roof that had to be pulled off as the fire burned under the roof.
“There ain’t nothing fire won’t destroy,” Robinson said as he pointed out the damaged bricks in the fireplace. “Why in the world would someone want to burn this place down?
“We are fortunate it wasn’t a barn but at the same time we are very disheartened that it was the old home place.”
The senior Robinson recalls riding out Hurricane Hazel in the house huddled together with his mother and younger siblings. His father and oldest brother rode out the storm on their shrimp boat.
“Daddy and Billy were up the Shallotte River by Wall Street with the boats,” he said. “The storm came in blowing one way. After the eye, the wind blew the other way and rolled the whole top of the roof off.”
He recalled the rain pouring into the bedroom during Hazel because in 1954 the house wasn’t sealed between boards.
“When it would snow it was so open it would blow into the bedroom through the cracks. There was a wood heater in the front room, but every night the fire went out at some point,” he said.
Robinson recalls his granddaddy raising hogs and sweet potatoes on the property. They lived off the land by farming and shrimping.
In the summer, the Robinsons operated a fish house. It was destroyed during Hurricane Hazel.
“We don’t know why, how or what,” the senior Robinson said about the fire.
“It’s just sickening,” his grandson added. “I just hope they can catch whoever done it.”
Firefighters from the Civietown, Tri-Beach and Supply fire departments responded.
The fire is under investigation by the Brunswick County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
Tolson Circle fire
While firefighters were fighting the blaze in Supply, a neighbor called 911 around 7:30 p.m. and reported smoke coming from the roof and backside of a house at 4752 Tolson Circle in Shallotte.
“When fire crews arrived, they found a working structure fire with the house partially involved with fire and rapidly spreading,” Garner said.
Ten firefighters from Shallotte worked the fire along with firefighters from Grissettown-Longwood and Sunset Beach fire departments.
A neighbor said fire crews were on scene in about five minutes.
According to Shallotte Fire Chief Paul Dunwell, the closest fire hydrant to the home was on McMilly Road.
“There is a limited water supply. We laid 1,600 feet of supply line for support because it is a non-hydranted area,” Dunwell said.
Tolson Circle is in an area contracted by the county to be served by the town of Shallotte.
“The fire was under the house in the crawlspace and into the roof,” Dunwell said.
Firefighters conducted primary and secondary searches of the home after receiving a report that someone was inside. No one was injured, but the home was severely damaged.
The American Red Cross was called to assist the family.
Investigators with the fire marshal’s office and BCSO ruled the cause as undeterminable. Foul play is not suspected at this time. It is still under investigation.
Ocean Highway fire
Three people were injured during a fire on Saturday afternoon in Winnabow.
The homeowner was taken to the hospital and two firefighters sustained minor injuries.
“On Saturday at about 3:20 p.m., a motorist on Highway 17 called and reported a structure fire at 4062 Ocean Highway East in Winnabow,” Garner said. “When firefighters arrived they found the home fully involved with fire and the homeowner was outside the structure.”
Firefighters from Winnabow, Boiling Spring Lakes, Bolivia, Leland, Northwest and Tri-Beach fire departments responded. One firefighter from Winnabow and one from Leland were treated for minor injuries.
“The cause of the fire was determined to be from a controlled burn that got away from the homeowner and spread into the structure,” Garner said.
The home was a total loss.