Note: This story was last updated at 2:50 p.m. Nov. 21 with a possible cause of the fire.
A woman and her dog escaped a raging house fire on Holbrook Lane on Thursday evening, but the home was heavily damaged and possibly destroyed. It was the third house fire between Oak Ridge and Clinton in less than two weeks, and the second in two days.
Flames were shooting through the roof of the hilltop home at 309 Holbrook Lane when firefighters arrived, said Stephanie Fox, assistant chief of the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department. Thick smoke billowed high into the air, and a dark plume could be seen as far away as Oak Ridge. Firefighters battled the blaze using what is known as a defensive attack, meaning they didn’t go inside.
Fox said the homeowner, whose identity wasn’t immediately available, was downstairs when the fire started. She heard glass break and went upstairs and saw flames, Fox said. The woman, estimated to be in her 50s, went back downstairs to get her dog and exited the house through the door of the walk-out basement. She was not taken to the hospital and was going to stay with relatives overnight, Fox said.
Fox said the fire, reported just before 5 p.m. Thursday, appeared to have started in the living room and front porch area of the brick home, which is just outside the city limits of Clinton and north of State Route 61 and Mariner Point subdivision.
Initial reports said someone was inside the home, so the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department, which has responded to all three home fires in the past two weeks, requested help from the Oak Ridge and Clinton fire departments.
There is no fire hydrant at the top of the hill, so fire trucks had to go back down the hill to fill up with water. Fox estimated they made four trips to fill up, and 12-15 firefighters used 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of water to extinguish most of the blaze in about 30 to 40 minutes.
There were concerns about the roaring blaze spreading to nearby trees and power lines, and Clinton Utilities Board shut down the power. Fox said firefighters were able to protect the surrounding property.
The roof of the home was completely burned on one side. The basement was reported to be intact, but Fox said the home was likely destroyed due to smoke and water damage to those portions that weren’t burned.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but like the other two fires in the past two weeks, it appeared to be unintentional, Fox said. Update: Anderson County Sheriff’s Department investigators have determined that the cause appears to have been electrical, Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said Friday. The homeowner was having some remodeling done.
Firefighters were still looking for hot spots and items that could be salvaged for the homeowner a few hours after the fire.
Fox stressed the continued importance of fire safety. Especially important, she said, is to never go back into a home that is on fire.
All three of the homes that caught fire in the past 12 days were near Oak Ridge Turnpike/State Route 61 in a stretch between the turnoff to Oliver Springs Highway (the SR 95/61 split) and the area around the Mariner Point subdivision. The first one on November 9 occurred in a vacant house on Elm View Drive in Tacora Hills. A 65-year-old woman died of her injuries in the second after she tried to rescue her pets. That fire occurred on Ridge Lane on Wednesday, and Oak Ridge and Claxton fire departments also responded to that blaze.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Here are three more pictures by fire photographer Tom Scott: