Flames destroy a home in north Victoria

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

July 11, 2013 at 2:11 a.m.
Updated July 12, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.

Christopher Stroh sat barefoot in his neighbor's yard, aghast at the dreary site in front of him - a single-level home gutted from a heavy fire.

His home.

The bitter smell of smoke and burnt wood permeated the air - it was all one could smell - as it attracted neighbors to watch the devastation unfold.

Tirelessly, the firefighters attempted to curb the blaze, working in shifts so those overheated by the flames could seek comfort under a shaded tree.

Stroh watched two firemen holding tight to a yellow hose as they doused the remnants of everything he owned.

"I don't know what to do," he said.

About 3:45 p.m., Victoria Fire Department firefighters responded to an outdoor fire in the 600 block of Berwick Road, but by the time they arrived, at least half of the structure was engulfed in flames, said Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake.

No serious injuries were reported.

Stroh, 53, and his roommate, Paul Gregory, 28, of Victoria, were both at home at the time.

"I was lying down in my room, and my roommate came in and said the couch outside was on fire," Stroh said. "I told him to call 911."

At the time, Stroh did not smell smoke, and his fire alarms hadn't gone off.

On the porch, a couch was on fire, and Stroh attempted to control it by pouring water on the flames because he worried the fire was going to spread.

A fire can double in size every 30 seconds, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

The flames did quickly spread, and Stroh was unable to return to the home to get his wallet or keys.

His car also was destroyed in the fire.

Gregory said he was in his bedroom, which faces the front of the house, when he smelled something foul.

That's when he noticed the fire.

"All of a sudden, I smelled smoke," he said. "I ran to Chris' room and told him, 'We gotta get out!'"

Gregory rented a room at the house and is unsure where he will live.

Two others rented rooms from Stroh. Neither were home at the time.

The American Red Cross provided food, clothing and shelter for all four who lived in the home, said Linda May, emergency services specialist for the organization's Crossroads chapter.

According to the Victoria County Tax Office, the four bedroom, 2,108-square-foot home was assessed at $171,402 in 2013.

The extent of damages was unknown as of Thursday night, Drake said.

The investigation is being conducted by the Victoria Fire Marshal's Office.



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