ROANOKE, Va. – One person is dead and 13 others without a home after a major fire in Southeast Roanoke on Thursday morning.
Two houses burned to the ground, a neighboring house was singed by the intense heat and firefighters were able to save another one from catching on fire.
Dozens of firefighters worked frantically on 10 1/2 Street to save a life.
“At the point of when we arrived we did have several folks in the area who advised us that they believed there could still be somebody inside one of the houses,” said Roanoke City Fire-EMS Deputy Chief David Guynn.
Gunn said firefighters saw the billowing smoke across town and first arriving crews found flames shooting out of the windows of one house, the house nextdoor and a truck as well.
“And they have to make a decision based on their experience in terms of what can the fire department do safely, how far has the fire progressed, how survivable is the fire in terms of victims and then what’s the risk to our firefighters,” said Guynn.
Crews were never able to make an interior attack and it was two hours later before the hoses finally turned off and an excavator moved in.
After a short sift through the rubble, crews made the grim discovery of a man’s body in the rear of the home.
“Those first arriving officers made the decision it was not safe for us to enter and we really needed to fight this fire from the exterior,” said Guynn.
The initial house partially collapsed by early afternoon, which made things even more complicated.
The medical examiner will determine a cause of death and the fire marshal will try to figure out how the fire started.
“That’s when we start thinking about cause and origin and at this point, it’s really too early we need to get in there and take a look,” said Guynn.
UPDATE - 3:03 p.m.
Officials have confirmed that one person died in Thursday morning’s fire in Southeast Roanoke.
The medical examiner’s office has been contacted to conduct an investigation, according to Roanoke Fire-EMS.
UPDATE - 11:45 a.m.
One person is still unaccounted for after two houses burned to the ground in Southeast Roanoke on Thursday morning.
As of 11:45 a.m., crews on the scene are now in the overhaul phase after two hours of spraying the homes.
The fire started around 8:30 a.m. and was immediately marked a two-alarm.
The family in one home was able to escape, but the family in the other told crews that someone was trapped inside.
Crews were unable to get inside the home to search due to the intense heat and the fact that the home had partially collapsed.
“A lot of people don’t realize that turnout gear is not fire-resistant,” said Kirsten Perdue, Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman. “We cannot go into these super hot fires and it’s actually not meant to be directly on fire, so turnout gear we can’t always go into a burning building with it.”
A smoke plume rose high into the sky and fire crews actually saw it more than a mile away.
The cause is unclear and authorities said the investigation is expected to go into Thursday evening.
UPDATE - 10 a.m.
Crews are still on the scene of a multi-home fire in Southeast Roanoke, and authorities said there could still be people inside.
Two homes are fully engulfed, and two other homes were exposed to heat damage, according to Roanoke Fire-EMS. Authorities said a car was also in flames when they arrived.
Crews said they received initial reports that people were still inside the two homes that are fully engulfed, but they have not been able to get inside to conduct a search.
Authorities said that since units were initially dispatched at about 8:30 a.m., one of the homes has partially collapsed.
Crews are on the scene of a fire in Southeast Roanoke.
Units were dispatched at 8:35 a.m. to the 100 block of 10 1/2 Street SE, according to Roanoke Fire-EMS. Authorities said units at the scene marked it a second alarm fire.
Authorities said two homes are fully engulfed, and two other homes were exposed to heat damage. Crews said they have not been able to get inside the two homes that are fully engulfed.
10 News has a crew at the scene. Here’s what we know so far: