Apartment 6 of Moss Apartments

Damage was limited to the kitchen area when a fire broke out in Apartment 6 of Moss Apartments near the Western Carolina campus. Smoke wafted into the surrounding apartments. A woman cooking in the apartment where the fire started was taken to Harris Regional Hospital with minor burns.

A Wednesday, Nov. 28, fire destroyed a house in Cullowhee.

The attic and upper floor of the three-story structure at 3046 Pressley Creek Road, near its intersection with Tilley Creek Road, were completely destroyed and not fit for habitation, said Jackson County Fire Marshal Michael Forbis. The bottom story, consisting of the living area and kitchen, was damaged by smoke and water, he said. The house also had a basement.

Steve and Renee Lashbrooks, along with their two children and another relative, lived at the house, which is located on 3.17 acres.

Steve Lashbrooks was slightly injured trying to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher.

“Some debris fell on his arm, and he had second degree burns and went to the hospital,” Forbis said.

The Cullowhee Fire Department, the lead responding unit, was dispatched to the scene at 4:42 a.m., with mutual aid from Sylva, Balsam and Savannah.

“The fire was knocked down probably within 10 or 15 minutes upon our arrival,” Cullowhee Fire Chief Tim Green said. “But there was a lot of heat and smoke in there and access wasn’t the best, having to go up stairwells. We were on the scene about 3.5 hours.

“Michael Forbis and I went back to the house that Wednesday afternoon after it had cooled down and had a look and as of right now, the cause of the fire is undetermined,” Green said. “We could not figure out what happened.”

Apartment fire in Cullowhee

A kitchen fire damaged an apartment near Western Carolina University last Thursday morning. The fire started when a woman in apartment 6 of Moss Apartments, 3272 Old Cullowhee Road, was cooking something on the stove, according to Forbis.

“We never really figured out what she was cooking, but she was cooking with glass,” Forbis said. “We don’t know if the pot fell off the burner or it exploded, but from we’re able to tell, it just fell down and started the carpet on fire.”

The fire damage was confined to the kitchen area around the stove. “The rest of it was heat damage, like the blinds,” Forbis said. “It was a very small fire. It got smoke into some of the surrounding apartments but didn’t damage anything other than that.”

The Cullowhee Fire Department responded, with mutual aid from Balsam, Savannah and Sylva. The fire was contained quickly, with very little water necessary.

The woman in the house, who was not the renter, was transported to Harris Hospital with some minor burns, Forbis said.

“She had dirt and soot on her,” he said. “We think she may have tried to put the fire out.”

Lightning strike

A rare December lightning strike damaged a home on Olivet Road in the Qualla Community Saturday evening about 5 p.m., according to Charles Lawson, assistant chief of the Qualla Fire Department.

“It was reported that they had smoke and saw some flames in the bathroom, but they contained it pretty quick and canceled mutual aid,” Lawson said.