Fire destroys Spencer home, kills pet dog
By Emily Ford
SPENCER — A Spencer man who buried his wife last week lost his house Thursday morning to a two-alarm blaze caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material,” an official said.
Melvin Gladden lived at the house at 604 Third St. with his mother and two other adult relatives, according to neighbors. His mother and another female relative were at home when the fire started around 10:30 a.m. and escaped without injury.
A pet boxer named “Cinnamon” apparently perished in the blaze, neighbor Bernice Peterson said.
“It went up fast,” said Peterson, who heard someone yelling “get out, get out” and then saw smoke pouring from the house.
About 40 firefighters responded to the blaze, which Spencer Fire Chief Jay Baker said investigators determined was started by smoking material.
Firefighters worked to knock down the flames and protect neighboring homes. The vinyl siding melted off one house, and two cars parked alongside the Gladden house were destroyed by fire.
Heavy, black smoke filled Third Street and was visible for blocks, at times obscuring homes and the long line of emergency vehicles parked in the road.
Firefighters entered the house for a short time but pulled back before the roof collapsed.
“We started in the defensive mode, there was so much fire,” Baker said. “We got a good knock down and changed to offensive but didn’t make much headway and lost it again and turned around back defensive.”
The century-old, wood-frame house went up quickly, Baker said. The fire had consumed more than 60 percent of the home when firefighters arrived, he said.
“Many voids are in the walls, ceiling and all and makes it tough to fight,” Baker said.
Peterson, who lives three doors away, was outside when she heard screaming. She said she had heard several loud pops when the fire started. She said neighbors moved a vehicle away from the front of the house before the truck caught fire.
Gladden’s mother took refuge on Peterson’s porch, crying as she watched the house burn. Other neighbors comforted her and Gladden, when he arrived on the scene from work.
Another neighbor reported hearing two loud noises just before the fire.
Gladden’s wife, Jessica Gladden, 40, died April 6 at the home and was buried last week.
The fire left Melvin Gladden and his family destitute, said Sarah Thompson, his high school classmate.
“They have nothing left,” she said.
Thompson is collecting clothes and household goods for the family at her business, Spencer Beauty and Barber Shop, 512 S. Salisbury Ave. in Spencer.
Donations can be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Clothing needed includes men’s pants size 38, men’s shirts size extra large, women’s pants sizes 10 and 12 and women’s shirts size medium and large.
To learn more about donating to the Gladden family, call Thompson at 704-603-4550.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.