A Clifton Forge man survived a house fire and was surprised to see that town officials already tore down his home. Town leaders said they building was not structurally safe.
Piles of burnt wood, charred clothes and other fire damaged items are all that remains of James Richmond's home on Ridgeway Street. On Sunday, Richmond was alarmed to hear his son's voice.
"I woke up and heard his voice hollering and screaming it scared the hell out of me" said Richmond.
Richmond and his son managed to escape the flames. Richmond was transported to the hospital and treated for burns to his hands as well as smoke damage to his eyes.
When he returned from the hospital, he saw that town officials tore down his home.
"They didn't ask permission or nothing they didn't give me a chance to salvage what could be salvaged" said Richmond.
WSLS 10 talked with Donald Ford, the Clifton Forge Director of Community Development. He, along with fire officials, made the decision to knock down the home.
"We felt it was a danger for anyone to even go in there in the condition that it was in and there is a danger of the house actually falling into the roadway" Ford said.
Ford said he examined the home and determined couldn't be salvaged. As a safety precaution, he believed the home needed to come down as soon as possible.
"It's a very unfortunate situation Mr. Richmond and his family lost everything that was there but we feel that we did the right thing" said Ford.
On the other hand, Richmond said town officials should have notified him before they reduced decades of family treasures and fond memories to a pile of rubble.
While the family lost material things, they said they value the support they gained from neighbors.
"The community has really come together and donated a lot of stuff" said Richmond. "I appreciate the community for that".
The American Red Cross assisted the family. Richmond says they are still trying to figure out where they will live since their home is now gone.