Fire takes Valmead home while residents away

Jan. 31, 2014 @ 08:02 AM

Shea Byrd was on his way home about 3:45 p.m. Thursday on U.S. 321 when he spotted a large amount of smoke coming from a house just off the highway, on Morningstar Church Road.

He called 911, and by the time firefighters arrived the house was "pretty much smoked up," Byrd said, and he could see flames inside the front door and more near the chimney. About half the house was burning, with smoke pouring from the front, rear and roof, Valmead firefighter Larry Price said. Firefighters had the fire out by 4:30.

The house, north of Lenoir in the Valmead area at 1707 Morningstar Church Road, sits in a small cove, tucked down the hill from the highway, on the corner of the two roads. Residents Joe Collins and Lorie Watson had left that morning to visit family in Kings Mountain, relatives and firefighters said.

Barbara Wilson, Watson's mother, said the house has a wood stove, and a fire had been burning there earlier, but she said Collins insists he took necessary precautions to smother the fire before leaving the house.

The Caldwell County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the fire's cause, but Price said the fire appeared to begin from the chimney. Price also said the house seemed likely to be ruled a total loss.

Price said firefighters encountered a power line that caused some problems, but Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. sent someone to disconnect the power.