By Dave Russell
William “Buster” Drasdo threw his arms up as he stood in the living room of his fire-gutted house last Thursday.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know where to start. I guess I’m just going to see what’s salvageable.”
A fire that originated in or near a shed attached to the house destroyed the home at 380 Mockingbird Lane, just south of Dillsboro, last Wednesday. No one was home at the time and there were no injuries reported, but the home is a total loss.
Drasdo was alerted to the fire while at work at the Haywood Smokehouse in Dillsboro. He lives in the home with his girlfriend, Jessica Holliday, and their children, ages 3 and 1.
“My kids are OK, and that’s really all that matters,” Drasdo said. “When they told me about the fire I didn’t know if they were home or not, and no one could tell me anything. When I saw the ambulance, that’s what scared me.”
The fire started in the shed attached to the house, he said.
“The only thing in the shed was the cat,” he said. “Maybe he turned the heater on, maybe he rubbed up against something, I don’t know.” Drasdo said. “The shed was full of my tools. I’ve been collecting tools since 1998. The only thing that made it were my drill bits.”
Drasdo does yardwork on the side and lost his weedeater, backpack leaf blower and lawnmowers, he said.
The cat did not survive the fire.
“I don’t know why, because he could get out of that shed,” Drasdo said.
Drasdo is in a rent-to-buy agreement with his mother, Mary Ann Drasdo, who has homeowners insurance, he said.
The 911 call came in at about 4:20 p.m., according to Jackson County Fire Marshal Michael Forbis.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, Forbis said.
“We have spent a lot of time out there looking at a few things and conducted a few interviews,” Forbis said. “But we don’t know for sure.”
The Sylva Fire Department answered the call, with mutual aid from the Savannah, Cullowhee and Balsam fire departments, Forbis said. Harris EMS, Jackson County Emergency Management and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office also responded.
The N.C. Forest Service came out because the fire burned about 20 yards into the woods.
“They were all really helpful,” Drasdo said.
The house sits on a half-acre lot with a tax value of about $45,000, according to the Jackson County tax records.
The Red Cross is stepping up to help the family.
Anyone interested in helping can contact Drasdo at email@example.com.