SALISBURY — A Rowan County family escaped with their lives but lost nearly everything else when fire destroyed their Mooresville Road home late Friday night.
Greg and Kelly Hartsell, their daughter Madison Moore and her boyfriend Jordan Smith were in the house when part of the chimney near a wood stove used to heat the home apparently caught fire, Smith said.
“It went up like a napkin,” he said. “It took the whole left side of the house out in about 15 minutes.”
Smith said Greg Hartsell started yelling “fire!” around 11:15 p.m., and Kelly Hartsell rushed everyone out of the house before the roof collapsed. Kelly Hartsell was able to grab an armful of photos but everything else went up in flames, including Smith’s wallet and cell phone, he said.
Authorities called a second alarm for the blaze at 5703 Mooresville Road just before midnight. Additional tankers were called in as water supplies dwindled while firefighters worked to contain the flames, which had engulfed the entire house.
Crews were in a defensive mode in their efforts to contain the fire.
“I have known the Hartsells for many years and they are such great neighbors,” said Kellie Martin, who lives across the street. “I am just heartbroken for them and all that they have lost. It was hard to watch it all go up in flames and as quickly as it did.”
The 100-year-old farmhouse stood charred and ghostly Saturday afternoon, and the area still smelled of smoke. Water continued to drip from burned rafters, and melted siding dripped down the remaining exterior walls.
Smith said the family stood by helplessly in the freezing cold as fire burned through the home faster than anyone could believe. By the time firefighters started pouring water on the house, it was too late, he said.
“It was bad,” Smith said. “We just watched it.”
Greg Hartsell expressed his gratitude Saturday night on Facebook.
“Thanks to God who is always with us and was certainly with my family last night,” he said. “Thank you all for your prayers and support.”
Hartsell gave special thanks to friends and relatives who took in the homeless family Friday night and those who are providing temporary housing.
Thanks to “many, many more who shared the pain last night and this morning in the freezing cold,” Hartsell said. “I am truly blessed and wholeheartedly believe God will provide.”
Smith said the family sifted through the ruins Saturday morning and found a few items that somehow did not burn — wedding photos.