Fire marshal investigates early-morning fires

Fire at 7063 Senedo Rd

Fire burns an unoccupied building used for farm storage at 7063 Senedo Rd.

WOODSTOCK—Fires burned two buildings in southwestern Shenandoah County in the early-morning hours on Friday, June 13. 

Nobody was injured in the fires, which happened about an hour and a half apart.

“We are investigating them as potentially set fires,” said David A. Ferguson, Shenandoah County fire marshal.

Dispatchers alerted fire and rescue units to the first fire at 2:35 a.m. That fire burned an abandoned mobile home at 4939 Orkney Grade, near Morning Star Road. By the time firefighters arrived, flames had almost completely consumed the building. 

Fire at 4939 Orkney Grade

A firefighter from Orkney Springs waits for water at the scene of a fire in an abandoned house at 4939 Orkney Grade

Units were finishing at that scene when the second fire was dispatched at 3:59 a.m. The second fire was in an unoccupied building used as farm storage at 7063 Senedo Road near N. Mountain Road.

Firefighters found fire throughout the masonry building, with vehicles and other buildings threatened by the flames. Fighting the fire from outside, they were able to keep the fire from spreading to anything else.

Units from Orkney Springs Fire and Rescue, Mount Jackson Rescue and Fire Department, Conicville Volunteer Fire Department, Edinburg Volunteer Fire Company, Woodstock Fire Department, New Market Fire and Rescue, Timberville Volunteer Fire Department, and Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue responded to the fires.

The fires are being investigated by the Shenandoah County Fire Marshal’s Office, with help from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office, the Frederick County Fire Marshal, and Virginia State Police.

Anyone with information that could pertain to the fires should call the Shenandoah County Fire Marshal’s Office at 540-459-6177. An Arson Reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest or indictment of the person(s) responsible for these fires.



House burns outside of Woodstock

House fire at 363 Fairview Circle

WOODSTOCK — Firefighters battled a house fire and high winds on Sunday afternoon, May 4.

A neighbor went to visit the house at 363 Fairview Circle west of Woodstock, unlocked the front door, saw smoke and called 911. An occupant had left the house 20 minutes prior to the discovery.

When firefighters arrived, fire was in the attic. Early on, they entered the house and tried to attack the fire from the inside but had to back out and fight the fire from outside. High winds made battling the fire difficult, and the house was a total loss.

Fire Marshal David A. Ferguson said that preliminary findings point to the cause of the fire being accidental.

“House fires are devastating,” said John Collins, public information officer for Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue.

“We’d like to remind everyone to reflect on the recent fires in the county and how they can improve their fire safety.”

“One of the most important fire safety tools we have is working smoke detectors,” Collins said. “Make sure you have working smoke detectors in your house.”

Fire crews responded from Woodstock, Edinburg, Toms Brook, and Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue. Woodstock Rescue Squad also responded.

At the same time as the fire in Woodstock, crews elsewhere in the county responded to a shed fire that spread into the woods near Quicksburg and an outdoor fire south of Orkney Springs.


Toms Brook fire destroys house on Roberts Road

TOMS BROOK — A fire destroyed a house in Toms Brook just after midnight on Wednesday, April 23, and the lone occupant and his dog escaped without injury.

The occupant at 36 Roberts Road in Toms Brook was watching TV when he heard crackling and saw a glow out the window. He then made several attempts to put the fire out before calling 911. By that time flames had spread into the roof area. When fire and rescue units arrived, there was heavy fire throughout the single-story house.

The fire was under control within 30 minutes of the 12:12 a.m. call. The house and contents are a total loss.

The cause of the fire appears right now to be accidental, possibly related to birds nesting in an exterior light, according to David Ferguson, fire marshal for Shenandoah County.

The fire is still under investigation, and Ferguson will be further processing the scene during the day on Wednesday.

Fire units from Toms Brook, Strasburg, Woodstock, and Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue responded to the fire, along with rescue units from Toms Brook and Strasburg.



Fire Destroys Historic Alms House at County Farm

MAURERTOWN — Two occupants escaped a fire that destroyed a historic house at the Shenandoah County Farm, known locally as the Alms House.

Smoke alarms alerted the residents to the fire early Sunday morning, April 13, and they escaped through a first floor window. One was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from going out the window.

Dispatchers alerted fire and rescue units to the fire at 5:42 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they initially entered the building to search for occupants, but stopped the search when they got word that everyone was already out. By that time the fire had grown so large that firefighters could only fight the blaze from outside the building.

The building, at 192 County Farm Lane in Maurertown, was being used for transitional housing managed by Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter. It is owned by Shenandoah County, and has been since it was deeded to the county in 1798 with the purpose of serving the poor.

An assessment lists the building’s construction date as 1764, and the records from the Shenandoah County Historical Society show that there were additions in 1829 and 1850, bringing it to more than 8,000 square feet.

“It’s not just the loss of a county structure,” said Mary Beth Price, county administrator for Shenandoah County. “It’s the loss of a historic county structure.”

“It’s a huge loss,” she said.

The County Farm is in an area without fire hydrants, so fire crews had to truck water to the scene.

No cause has been determined, and the county fire marshal is investigating the fire.

Fire and rescue units responded to the fire from Toms Brook, Woodstock, Strasburg, Edinburg, Middletown, Conicville, Orkney Springs, and Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue. Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Department of Transportation helped with traffic control.

Two die in Toms Brook house fire

55 Jessica Place, Toms Brook (1)

TOMS BROOK — During the investigation into Thursday’s fire at 55 Jessica Place in Toms Brook, investigators found two deceased people in the burned house. The medical examiner is working to identify them.

Two people resided at that address, William Dartnell, 81, and Kikuko Dischleit, 86.

Everything to this point in the investigation suggests that the house fire was an accidental fire, according to David Ferguson, fire marshal for Shenandoah County. The investigation is ongoing.

Fire units left the scene shortly before 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 20. Investigators remain on the scene.

“This is a tragic event for the entire community,” said John Collins, public information officer for Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue. “Our biggest goal is to prevent such tragedies.”

“I hope that everyone will immediately make sure they have working smoke alarms in their house,” Collins said.

55 Jessica Place, Toms Brook (2)