Wood stove sparks blaze at Rockwell house

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

By Shelley Smith
ROCKWELL — As Matthew Gelam was driving down Shuping Mill Road to see his cousin’s new dog, he didn’t expect to arrive and find the house on fire, and the Australian Shepherd, Jack, inside.
Gelam used a cement “Welcome” sign found outside the home and threw it through the glass front door.
“I couldn’t even get the door open and he (Jack) jumped through the glass,” Gelam said.
Owner of the home, Daniel Walter, 27, of 1865 Shuping Mill Road, had only had Jack for three days and his home for two years, when the fire struck.
Walter purchased the 1600-square-foot home only two years ago, and had just finished remodeling, adding new kitchen countertops, floors and paint.
He had filled his new home with new furniture, he said, and had only sat on one of the couches in the den about three times.
That couch was in the den between the garage and main part of the house, where the fire started in a wood stove, spreading to the ceiling, and causing the roof to partially collapse.
Most of the damage was to the den and the garage.
Walter said he will stay with a friend while repairs are made to his home.
Responding to the fire were Bostian Heights, South Salisbury, Rockwell Rural, Rockwell City, Mt. Mitchell, Rimer and China Grove fire departments. Landis Fire Department moved up to cover China Grove. Rowan Rescue also responded, as well as the Rowan County Fire Marshall’s Office.
Walter said he didn’t know what to think when he got the call that his house was on fire, but said he couldn’t stop thinking about Jack.
“I’m glad he’s alright,” he said.
He says he never thought a fire would strike his home.
“It’s just something that happens,” he said, “and you never think you’re going to get a call.
“It’ll all work out. The Lord always watches over.”