By Dave Russell
A Monday morning fire in the East LaPorte community completely destroyed a trailer, leaving a man homeless.
The 911 call about a mobile home fire at 39 Shirt Tail Ridge came into dispatch at about 8:40 a.m., Jackson County Fire Marshal Michael Forbis said.
Walter Shelton, 70, the only resident of the rented home, was alone when the fire started and got out safely.
“His facial hair was singed and he had a lot of smoke damage to his face,” he said. “He refused any kind of transport for medical attention.”
The cause of the fire was listed as undetermined as of Monday afternoon.
“The only ignition forces we could find back there were something electrical, maybe a heater malfunctioned,” he said. “Mr. Shelton said it started in the back bedroom, which all the patterns kind of indicate, but we don’t know how it got started. He said he heard some noises and walked to the back of the mobile home and smelled smoke and when he opened the door to the back bedroom he saw all the flames.”
The trailer was a complete loss, Forbis said.
No outbuildings were damaged.
“There was a truck that had some radiant heat damage, but it was a truck that hasn’t moved in about four years,” he said.
The lead unit was the Cullowhee Fire Department, with mutual aid from Savannah, Sylva and Canada, he said.
“The Cullowhee Fire Department really did a great job,” Forbis said. “They got there really quick and had to run hoses down to the trucks on 107.”
Harris EMS and the Sheriff’s Office were on scene.
“They were a real asset because it was right there in the curve of N.C. 107 right before you get to Caney Fork, so they actually had to set up truck operations in 107,” he said. “They shut down one lane of 107 temporarily.”
Neither Shelton nor the owner of the property had insurance, Forbis said.
“There’s no way for him to recoup anything,” he said.
The Red Cross is assisting Shelton.