Fire damages Pilot Point house
By Basil Gist
Pilot Point resident Bonnie White came home Sunday night to the smell of something burning.
Despite an attempt to go to bed, she found the smell disconcerting enough to move her car out of the garage, which is when she saw the smoking billowing out of her roof.
“I wear a life alert, so I just punched the button and they sent firemen out,” White said. “I’m just thankful I got up and didn’t feel comfortable going to bed with that scent.”
The source of the smoke was in the attic above White’s fire alarms.
“The smoke was contained in the ceiling,” White said. “The fire chief said that with just a little more time the blaze would have started.”
Chief Brian Cox explained further.
“It did burn through three rafters in the house,” Cox said. “All the heat was under the insulation; there was enough heat and enough chemical reaction that it was burning the wood, but it didn’t have enough oxygen to become a significant fire.
While rapid response from Pilot Point Fire Department with assistance from Aubrey, Sanger and Tioga, contained the incident, damage was still done.
“I thought they were going to cut a hole in the roof because the ladder was against the house at one point, but I guess they decided they didn’t need to go that route,” White said before explaining they vented the smoke through a hole in her living room. “They did what they needed to do, [but] my whole living room is destroyed.”
PPFD cut through the ceiling to find the scope of the fire and quench it.
“The only attic access was in the garage and it didn’t provide clear access to the fire in the living room,” Cox said. “The fastest way to access the fire was to pull the ceiling out from under it.”
Whites home had an additional challenge in that the sheet rock ceiling had been redone with cedar planks by her late husband.
“We actually had to use chainsaws to cut that out,” Cox said. “When we find a fire in an attic space like that, we pull the ceiling down to make sure there’s no hidden areas that are still smoking or smoldering.”
“They thought it might have started with the ceiling fan, but I never turn that fan on,” White said. “I noticed when I opened the door to the furnace it smelled really bad like burnt wire, so I think that’s where it started and then made its way to the fan.”
Though it’s safe for White to pick up things she needs from the house, she can’t currently stay there.
“With the hotel, I’m booked for two weeks, but [the insurance company] said I could come back and book some more time,” White said. “I know it’s going to take longer than that.”
Though it’s White’s residence, the house is deeded to her granddaughter who lives in Houston.
“When we start talking to contractors, she’ll make her way towards Pilot Point,” White said Monday morning. “We don’t have a definite date just yet.”
Being a member of the 19th Century Club and Friends of the Pilot Point Community Library, White will still have occasion to come back and forth from her hotel to town during the repairs.
“I’m 80 years old, but I’ve very, very active,” White said.