‘Suspicious’ vacant house fire under investigation
Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman and a city firefighter look over the remnants of a vacant house on McCarrell Avenue that was gutted by fire early Thursday.
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An excavator clears debris after fire gutted a vacant house on McCarrell Avenue in Washington early Thursday.
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Jessica Baez’s young daughter awoke early Thursday morning to the smell of smoke outside her bedroom window and knew something was wrong.
The 9-year-old alerted her mother to the smoke, but Baez thought she was imagining it or that it was coming from elsewhere in Washington.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later when the smoke became overpowering and Baez realized there was a big problem.
The vacant home directly next door to them on McCarrell Avenue in Washington was engulfed in flames as smoke billowed from the structure. Baez said they could feel the intense heat inside the girl’s bedroom, and the plastic window blinds quickly melted.
“I’m crying and very, very scared,” Baez said she was thinking as she rushed to get her family out of the house.
Crews responded to the fire shortly before 5 a.m. and found flames towering above the home. The home was destroyed, and two neighboring houses, three cars parked nearby and a detached garage were damaged.
Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman called the blaze “suspicious” and said they were also called to the vacant home at 150 McCarrell Ave. for a less serious fire in June. He said no utilities were hooked up to the house at the time of the fire.
After extinguishing the blaze, crews worked in the morning sifting through the debris with an excavator searching for anyone who may have been inside. No one was found, however, and Washington firefighters spent the rest of the day clearing debris from the scene.
The state police fire marshal is now investigating what caused the blaze. The house is owned by Jason and Wendy Debnar of Marianna.