Elderly man loses childhood home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2005

COMO – An 81-year old man is without a place to call home after a fire claimed his home early Wednesday morning.

Como Fire Chief Jason Howell said the department received a call from Hertford County dispatch informing them of a fire at 450 Boones Bridge Road at approximately 7:25 a.m., but by the time firefighters arrived atto the residence, the two-story home was fully engulfed in flames.

According to Howell, fire trucks had a hard time gaining access to the residence because it was in a secluded area.

&uot;Normally, we can use our dump tanks to go back and retrieve more water, but that wasn’t the case here,&uot; Howell said, stating that firefighters had no choice but to run water hoses from a truck parked on an adjacent street.

&uot;We had no access to a fire hydrant and the nearest one was a good three to four miles away.&uot;

Combined with efforts from the Murfreesboro Fire Department, which was called in for mutual aid, approximately 20 firefighters spent upwards of three hours trying to contain the blaze.

Yet, despite their timely action and cooperation, the home that once belonged to Johnny Barnes burned completely to the ground.

&uot;It was disheartening because I don’t believe the man had any insurance,&uot; said Howell, adding that the house bore significant sentimental value to Barnes since he was born there.

The fire is believed to have started as a result of some stray embers from a fire that was lit in the man’s wood burning stove that morning.

Barnes told firefighters that he had been in the house sleeping when he heard noise emanating from his smoke detector along with a popping and cracking sound coming from the area where his couch had been.

Howell believes the embers ignited on a nearby blanket thrown over the back of Barnes’ couch and estimated the loss to be between $35,000-$40,000. He also cautioned citizens never to leave a fire unattended.

Howell offered a sincere thanks to firefighters from both departments and extended a special thanks to Murfreesboro Fire Chief Billy Deanes for his assistance.