By Dave Russell
A Monday afternoon fire left a home with severe fire, water and smoke damage and a family looking for new quarters.
The call about a fire at 230 Woodtop Road in the Fisher Creek area came in at about 5:45 p.m. The Sylva Fire Department responded, with mutual aid from the Cullowhee, Savannah and Balsam fire departments.
Fire personnel arrived quickly on scene, Fire Marshal Michael Forbis said. They had been at a training exercise involving a controlled burn in the Fisher Creek area.
The root cause of the fire was a tree limb falling on the main electric line to the house and knocking the power out, Forbis said.
The residents, Brandi Warner, 28, and Michael Warner, 36, had the line repaired. The tenants then threw the main circuit breaker and left the house, Forbis said. A recessed wall heater in the utility room had been left switched on. It started emitting heat, catching a nearby pile of clothing and towels on fire, he said.
The home is uninhabitable.
“There was smoke damage throughout the entire house, and there was water damage to the bathroom, laundry room area and the bedroom,” he said.
The couple drove up to find the house full of smoke, Brandi Warner said. Michael Warner ran into the house and tried to douse the fire, suffering smoke inhalation in the process. He was transported to Harris Regional Hospital by Harris EMS. He was released at about 10:30 p.m., Brandi Warner said.
The Warners were at the house Tuesday morning to salvage what they could.
“Mostly it’s heavy smoke and water damage, but it’s definitely ruined,” Brandi Warner said. “We’re still trying to figure out what to do next. We are very fortunate to have family in the area. My kids and my husband are OK, and that’s all that matters.”
The couple have a 5-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy.
Their landlord, Frank Watson, has been very kind and supportive, Brandi Warner said.
The couple would appreciate donations made to the American Red Cross in their names. Anyone interested in donating should contact the Western North Carolina Chapter at 258-3888.
Donations can also be made at gofundme.com using keywords “unexpected house fire.”
Brandi Warner works for UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Harrah’s Cherokee and Michael Warner at Mountain Home and Lawn.