A late-night house fire in Delano resulted in a total loss Monday night. West Polk Fire and Rescue responded to a call around 10 p.m. at the home of Polk County News Editor and Publisher Cheryl Buehler. She and her housemate Jana Hannah were uninjured in the blaze.
According to West Polk Fire and Rescue Chief Steve Lofty, the fire started at a stove in the basement of the home. Hannah attempted to put out the fire, but it got out of hand quickly. Flames traveled up from the basement into the laundry room and master bedroom of the residence, then up into the attic.
“They call this type of fire a widow maker,” Lofty said. He said when a fire has spread into three levels it is extremely difficult to contain because it can move back and forth from level to level.
Lofty said the fire raged so hard firefighters struggled to gain access to the flames coming from the bathroom and closet area of the master bedroom, where the roof eventually collapsed. The kitchen and living room areas also sustained major damage. Because the doors were closed, flames did not spread into the bedrooms on the opposite side of the house, but fire in the attic above led to collapsed ceilings, water, and smoke damage.
“Seeing it by the light of day on Tuesday left me completely stunned,” Buehler said. “I could never have imagined the destruction I would see in my home. Considering the my bedroom was absolutely destroyed, I am honestly amazed the firefighters were able to stop the fire at all.”
Buehler said she has been writing about fires and the efforts of the volunteers for many years in the paper, but never imagined being on the other side of the story. Lofty praised the work of firefighters in suppressing such a powerful fire.
“The dedication of these firemen – who are not even paid to do this job – reminds me what an amazing community Polk County really is,” Buehler said, adding, “having that level of training along with a good relationship with other departments really seems to be a godsend.”
Responding to the call along with West Polk Fire and Rescue were the Etowah Rural Fire Department, Claxton Fire Department, and Englewood Fire Department. East Polk Fire and Rescue and Bradley County were on standby throughout the night. Lofty expressed special thanks to Chiefs Billy Roach from Englewood and Brandon Frost with Etowah Rural.
Due to the fire and loss of computers at the residence, Buehler was unable to print the Polk County News on Tuesday.
“I work on the pages all hours of the night to get them to the printer on Tuesday. All my work was lost,” she said.
Buehler decided since it was impossible to get the paper out on time, she would wait for the election results on Thursday. She thanked everyone who responded to the call and encourages residents to donate to their local fire department and the Red Cross.