CENTERVILLE, Ohio --
A faulty fireplace is shouldering the blame for a huge fire that destroyed a Centerville home early this morning. The couple that lived in the home on Haxton Court near Whipp Road called dispatchers about 2:30 a.m. They reported that their smoke detectors were going off and that they smelled smoke.
The Washington Township Fire Department provides all fire service coverage for the city of Centerville. Their dispatchers reported also getting calls about the same time from neighbors who said the house was in flames.
A Centerville police officer also reported seeing flames near the home's chimney when he pulled up and confirmed the couple was safely outside of the house.
A neighbor said he saw much the same thing as he looked out his window. Bob Gregory said "I thought I heard doors slamming outside and I looked out and the window and the roof was engulfed, the flames were shooting to the sky".
Washington Township firefighters arrived at the scene just after that and said the house was almost fully engulfed with flames coming through the roof in several spots. They decided said it wasn't safe to put firefighters in the house. Instead, they used handlines and then pulled a ladder truck into place and used the nozzle gun extended on the ladder to pour water down on the flames from above.
It took about an hour for the flames to be placed under control and hot spots smoldered for another couple hours before investigators could safely get into the home to poke around for a cause.
The homeowner told firefighters that he used the fireplace Monday night but made sure the flames were out.
Investigators think that's true but say flames or heat from the fire slipped through cracks in the masonry at the back of the fireplace. They think the flames then smoldered in the walls for several hours before traveling up into the home's attic and the large flames developed from there.
Fire investigators said the house may be considered a total loss. They put the total damages from the fire at about two hundred and forty thousand dollars.
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