Last Updated: 4:01 p.m.
A massive fire engulfed a single-family house at 121 Woodhaven Drive, off of Pine Lakes Parkway, in Palm Coast at around 11:50 this morning. There were no occupants in the house at the time, but two or three dogs were rescued after the fire started.
The Palm Coast Fire Department with assistance from Flagler County Fire Rescue is currently at the scene as firefighters battle the blaze–not to save the twenty-three year old house, which is a lost cause, but to contain the fire to the property, which sits in close quarters next to houses on either side and behind it.
The cause of the blaze is not yet known. The renters were at a doctor’s appointment for one of the occupants, when the fire started.
“I’m guessing around 10 minutes to 12 I’m guessing a resident in the neighborhood said they smelled smoke, saw smoke from the house, didn’t know what the address was other than Woodhaven. They started sending us here and we found out if was 121 Woodhaven,” Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle, who was in command of the scene, said.
The first unit located the origin of the fire in the right-rear corner of the house, a screened in porch, was fully involved, with heavy smoke showing out of the front of the house.
Audio: Fire Chief Mike Beadle on the Fire[media id=337 width=250 height=250]
“We were advised there might be an elderly female inside the structure, so our crews went in and started our primary search,” Beadle said, “got about half way into the structure and got the front rooms checked out before the back end of the house actually dropped in, the attic had already burned through and dropped in, so we had to pull the guys out, we went to what we would call defensive mode, just trying to protect the structures on either side. The homeowner did come home, advised there was a motorcycle in the garage and some tools, one of which was a settling tank, very combustible when it gets heated. Really bad stuff for when you’re fighting a fire. So cut the door, made sure that we had access to get in, that there wasn’t any major fire in there, which there wasn’t, and we actually got his motorcycle out.”
As it turns out, there were no human beings in the house when the fire started. “We know there were two animals in the house, we did get one out, and thankfully there wasn’t anybody inside the house,” Beadle said. “Have absolutely no way of knowing what started it. The fire marshal’s office has been notified, they’re on the way.”
It is confirmed that there were dogs in the house when the fire started, but there were conflicting reports about the number of dogs in there–at l;east two, maybe three. “Two, we’re being told two. Whether they both got out, we still don’t know at this point,” Beadle said, though neighbors spoke of three.
Audio: Lt. Jason Wagner Describes Dog’s Rescue[media id=338 width=250 height=250]
Lt. Jason Wagner and Firefighter Michael Chandley were first to go in, as the fire was raging, after getting reports of a person and three dogs possibly being inside.
“We got in so far but the heat was beating us back,” Wagner said. “So we did a quick knock down of what we could, and then as we hit it with some water, is when we heard a dog barking, yelping, like it was in trouble. So immediately we stopped, made a right-hand search, got into a hallway, where we found the dog. Grabbed the dog, made a way out to the rescue company who was at the door waiting for it, gave the dog to the rescue company and then began the rest of our search.”
Flames were already leaping from various parts of the house the house at that point.
“When I found the dog it was laying on the ground, yelping,” Wagner said, “what I would imagine taking its last breaths, because it was pretty hot, smoky in there, even for us. We were breathing air out of our air tanks, so it was just paying on the floor, on its side, just gasping for air, pretty much.”
What is also confirmed is that a house painter who was breaking for lunch drove by the scene just as the fire had started, and kicked in the door when he heard dogs barking. He saw two dogs run out. He had been told by neighbors there were three dogs inside, but flames made it impossible to go in. Some reported a dog going back in, though it appears that the third dog was the poodle that Wagner and Chandley saved.
Avel Garon is one of the two painters who was working at 5 Woodholme, nearby, with a partner, when he drove by the scene after seeing smoke. “I looked, and I said that’s a fire, that’s a fire,” Garon, a Palm Coast resident who’s who’s celebrating his 30th birthday on Tuesday, said. “I knocked on the door and I heard the dog barking, so I said I had to kick in the door, maybe someone is inside. So I kicked in the door. The two dogs came out, one brown one, and one white one, then once I got close to the porch, the porch sliding door blew off, I had to get out. It was too hot for me.”
An hour after the blaze, two Palm Coast Animal Control units were in the neighborhood, chasing after at least one of the dogs that had run out of the house. The dog was spotted in various yards not far from the fire, but it would not let itself be caught, and may have been traumatized by the fire.
Beadle said crews would be at the scene late into the day, and neighbors were likely to smell smoke for a while. “They’ll smell this for a week or so,” Beadle said.
Properties around the fire were not in danger even as firefighters were fighting the blaze, as the fire was effectively contained. Sheriff’s office deputies did, for precautionary measures, inform nearby residents of the fire, but no evacuation was necessary.
At 2:49 p.m., some of the fire units were beginning to be released from the scene. Some 13 firefighters were fighting the fire and a half dozen members of the fire police controlled traffic.