Damages from Magnolia fire exceed $500,000

MAGNOLIA — A Sunday afternoon fire in Magnolia that left three houses in ruins has the Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal searching for an explanation.

“The family wasn’t home at the time of the fire and it’s too early to determine a cause,” said Assistant State Fire Marshal Alan Brown, referring to the house where the fire was believed to have initiated.

“We do have an investigation that’s ongoing.”

The fire marshal reported the home first affected by the fire was destroyed beyond repair and will need to be rebuilt. The homes on either side have little more than wood frames still standing.

More than 50 firefighters from several volunteer companies were on the scene of the Magnolia fire Sunday. (Submitted/Felton Community Fire Company)

More than 50 firefighters from several volunteer companies were on the scene of the Magnolia fire Sunday. (Submitted/Felton Community Fire Company)

Neighbors noticed smoke emerging from the home, but the fire spread quickly and the home was fully ablaze in the few minutes it took for the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company to arrive.

According to Magnolia’s live run log on the company’s website, multiple units were dispatched at 5:16 p.m. to The Meadows At Chestnut Ridge, at 162 Viola Drive.

Magnolia was assisted by multiple fire companies including Camden-Wyoming, Dover, Felton and Little Creek. About 50 firefighters were on the scene in total. Even with such manpower, the fire took several hours to extinguish.

“This was a wind-driven fire, so it was moving very quickly and we knew we had to reduce loss,” said Magnolia Fire Chief R.W. Rhodes.

The firefighters tried to contain the flames of the main fire while simultaneously protecting nearby property at risk. With winds like Sunday’s, every surrounding home was vulnerable.

Felton Community Fire Company posted on its Facebook page Sunday that units arrived to find heavy fire in a structure. Crews, under the direction of Fire Chief Kevin Sipple, initially “made an interior attack,” but switched to limiting the fire from spreading because of the heavy flames.

The Facebook post said three homes were heavily damaged.

Some neighboring houses saw minor damage, including melted vinyl siding caused by the radiant heat put off by the fire. The homes on other side of the main house were extensively damaged.

The fire marshal reported the home first affected by the fire was destroyed beyond repair and will need to be rebuilt. The homes on either side have little more than wood frames still standing.

Total damages from the fire are estimated to be in excess of $500,000.

Although there was severe damage to property, nearly all individuals involved remained unharmed. The single exception was a firefighter who was hospitalized due to a dislocated shoulder.

The occupants of the main home were out for the day and residents of a neighboring home were on vacation.

The Delmarva Red Cross was on the scene soon after the fire was reported to offer assistance to four neighbors who were home at the time of the fire and whose houses were affected.

The Red Cross will continue working with those individuals, others affected and their families by ensuring emergent needs like clothing and a safe place to stay. In the long-term, those affected can work with Red Cross caseworkers to develop a recovery plan.

Neighbors called in the fire around 5 p.m. Sunday after noticing smoke emerging from the Magnolia home. (Submitted/Felton Community Fire Company/Jason Steagall)

Neighbors called in the fire around 5 p.m. Sunday after noticing smoke emerging from the Magnolia home. (Submitted/Felton Community Fire Company/Jason Steagall)

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.