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No injuries in early morning fire that damages house in Spencer

By Frank DeLoache

Salisbury Post

SPENCER — Fire heavily damaged a wood frame house on North Yadkin Avenue Saturday morning, but the two residents and two turtles living there escaped uninjured.

A smoke alarm alerted the residents to the fire, enabling them to escape.

Hazel Dorsett, 80, lives at the house with her brother, Thomas “June Bug” Wilson, 76, and Wilson’s two turtles.

Dorsett said she awoke about 6 a.m. to a sound that she thought, at first, was a music box. Then, she recognized the harsh beep of the smoke alarm and bolted awake.

She found the fire burning strongly in the kitchen.

When she went to alert her brother, she found him already dressed, and they got out of the house quickly.

The Spencer Fire Department is located only a few blocks from the modest, white house, and firefighters responded quickly.

A firefighter found Wilson’s two turtles and brought them out of the house.

Firefighters had to knock out two windows in the kitchen and cut a hole in the roof to extinguish all the flames.

Officials with the Fire Department could not be reached for comment later in the day, but an insurance adjuster who came to house later Saturday morning said the fire appeared to start in the hot water heater.

Lelia Poole, a resident of the Trading Ford community and Dorsett’s stepdaughter, said the fire left only a shell of the refrigerator, and other charred appliances were sitting on the ground outside the house.

Poole brought her stepmother and Wilson back to the house Saturday morning to see what they might salvage in personal belongings. They came out of the house with their hands dirty from ashes.

Dorsett said she has rented the house from Howard Doby, of Salisbury Avenue, for nine years.

The house is not liveable now, and Poole said she’s not sure where her stepmother and Wilson will go. The pair live on Social Security payments, Poole said.

A representative of the Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the fire and gave the brother and sister vouchers to stay at least two nights at the Best Western hotel. The Red Cross also gave Dorsett and Wilson vouchers to buy some clothes, Poole said.

Dorsett and Poole are members of Trading Ford Baptist Church, and church members have helped around the house in the past. Poole said she was contacting church leaders on behalf of Dorsett and Wilson.

Wilson belongs to Canaan Baptist Church, his sister said.

The insurance adjuster told Doby the house can be repaired but will require extensive internal work.

A firefighter told Wilson and Dorsett he would keep the turtles until they had found another place to live.

Contact Frank DeLoache at 704-797-4245 or fdeloache@salisburypost.com.


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