By Clint Parker
Barnardville Hwy – “Based on witness statements and…witnesses to the fire in its beginning stages, that was a smoking fire,” said Buncombe County Assistant Fire Marshal Kevin Tipton about an early morning fire that destroyed a single family, two-story home on Lovin Road off the Barnardsville Highway Thursday morning of April 11.
Tipton said “discarded smoking materials” on the house’s front porch was the source of the blaze that destroyed the 95-year-old home built in 1924. Tipton confirmed the “material” was a cigarette. “From what I’ve been told there was a lit cigarette tossed into a flammable container on the front porch,” Tipton explained, then corrected his use of the word flammable to combustible. “A combustible container, not flammable.” He went on to say, “Somewhere after midnight.” Then that smoldering cigarette led to the blaze. “That’s my analysis,” stated Tipton.
According to Firefighter Kenny DaVall with the Barnardsville Fire Department in The Tribune’s original report, the call came in at 5:50 am with several area fire departments responding along with Barnardsville. “[When] we arrived on scene we had heavy fire on the front of the house, the front porch,” DaVall explained. “The whole front was engulfed.”
Tipton said that the insurance investigation into the blaze is also closed after the insurance company and their investigator accepted Tipton’s findings in the cause of the fire. Asked if there would be charges coming in the blaze he responded, “No sir, you can’t charge. That’s an accidental fire.”
Tipton also said they could not find any evidence that the smoke alarms had activated before or during the fire to warn the residents. While everyone got out of the home without injury and no firefighters were hurt while battling the blaze, Tipton wanted to remind residents to periodically check their smoke alarms to make sure they are in working order. Tipton recommended area residents check their alarms monthly.
“They hadn’t tested their alarms, and we could find no evidence of them [alarms] ever going off,” said Tipton, going on to state that the fire had originated outside one of the occupant’s windows and that the smoke woke them up.
Assistant Fire Marshal Tipton also wanted to take the opportunity of the fire to remind the public of the hazards of not correctly discarding smoking materials.