EFD continuing to investigate fire at city home

Published 10:08 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

A fire that damaged a city home is still under investigation by the Elizabethton Fire Department.

On Thursday around 4:15 p.m., firefighters responded to 1788 West Elk Avenue, which is located near Whitson Barber Shop on a report of a structure fire. When the firefighters arrived on the scene, they saw heavy smoke and flames coming from two sides of the second story roof. Firefighters were able to douse the blaze before it claimed the entire home.

“The guys did a really, really good job and kept it contained to the top of the home,” said EFD Fire Marshal Andy Hardin.

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The roof sustained heavy fire damage but both Hardin and EFD Chief Barry Carrier said the structure of the home remains pretty sound and should be saveable.

“It’s a well-built house,” Carrier said. “The only damage to the first and second floor is water damage.” The lower floors to the home sustained some minor smoke damage but Hardin said most of the smoke vented out through the roof of the house.

The home is over 100 years old and Carrier said many of the older homes have a sturdy construction that allows them to better survive fires as long as the blaze can be contained.

“If the fire had been on the bottom, we’d be talking about a different story,” Hardin said.

Firefighters were on the scene for several hours working on Thursday. The first firefighters arrived on the scene around 4:15 and the last unit cleared from the location around 9 p.m.

Both Hardin and Carrier returned to the home on Friday to continue their investigation and talk with the resident, Robert Slagle.

At this time, Hardin said he is fairly certain the fire was caused by a fault in the home’s electrical work.

“He had been having some electrical problems, and everything is pointing to it being electrical in nature,” Hardin said.

When the fire was first spotted on Thursday, Jon Whitson, owner of the barber shop next to the home, and his brother-in-law Arnold Lane ran from the shop to the home to help Slagle get to safety.

“They saved my life, Jon and Arnold did,” Slagle told the Elizabethton Star on Friday.

Slagle also praised the efforts and personnel from the Elizabethton Fire Department, Elizabethton Police Department, Carter County Rescue Squad, and American Red Cross.

“Everybody has been so nice to me,” Slagle said. “I want to thank them.”

Traffic was disrupted for several hours on West Elk Avenue as firefighters battled the blaze. Traffic was limited to one lane westbound and one lane eastbound to make room for the firetrucks at the scene.