Fire strikes twice at North Bethany house
Firefighters may have experienced a sense of déjà vu in the early hours of June 12 when they responded to a house fire in North Bethany.
After responding to a fire in the 31000 block of Heather Lane in Bethany Dunes on Wednesday, July 11, at 8:34 p.m., firefighters were called back at 3:27 a.m. on Thursday, to the same oceanfront property.
Mid-week, the Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office was still investigating the source of both fires, which caused severe damage to the beach house. The three-story building was unoccupied during the first incident, fire officials noted.
“After the first fire, the house was still [livable],” said Lee. “Most of the fire on the south side was contained in exterior wall and it was still livable. That’s why the occupants went back in.”
The occupants were at home when the second blaze was reported. They escaped safely, and there were no injuries, but the damage was severe and the house demolished.
Because the flames in the second fire were several stories up, firefighters used an excavator and other heavy equipment to break down the structure and move rubble, so the fire would fall into a more accessible zone.
The fire was brought under control around 6 a.m. Thursday, according to the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company Web site. After Thursday, only a southwest corner of one wall remained, Lee said.
The house was built very close to three others, so neighboring houses in the south, north and northwest also suffered “repairable but substantial” heat damage, said Randy Lee, chief deputy state fire marshal. That included damaged siding and broken windows.
Bethany Beach firefighters were the first responders, and additional manpower came from Millville, Roxana, Frankford, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Indian River and Ocean City, Md., fire companies, plus county emergency responders.
The fire marshal’s office was still investigating the cause of the fires this week, with questions remaining particularly about whether the fire was accidental and how it restarted. Additional investigation by the insurance company was also expected.
“If anybody has information, they can certainly contact our office. Some of it might be hearsay, but it doesn’t hurt to call,” said Lee.
Tips may be phoned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office in Sussex County at (302) 856-5600.