Fire destroys family’s Gold Hill home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 19, 2013

GOLD HILL — Just a week before Christmas, a family of five lost their home and possibly their car to fire on U.S. 52 in Gold Hill.
Victor Ortiz, another adult and three children escaped the blaze, which started about 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to officials. No other names or ages were available Wednesday night.
The family members remained on the scene as firefighters worked in the cold night air. They were sheltered inside fire department vehicles, awaiting the arrival of the American Red Cross for help with temporary housing and other assistance.
Ortiz and his family were renting the single-story, wood-frame house at 13525 U.S. 52, next door to Earnhardt Lumber, according to officials.
The cause of the fire was unknown but appeared accidental, said Chad Earnhardt, fire chief for Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
A witness who arrived on the scene before firefighters said Ortiz told him there had been a spark near the stove shortly before the fire began and forced the family to evacuate.
Christopher Leonard said he was driving by the home with his father, Jimmy Leonard, when they saw flames coming from the roof and a nearby tree on fire.
Ortiz was standing close to the house, looking stunned, Christopher Leonard said. He and his father were concerned that a vehicle parked in front of the house may catch fire and explode and encouraged Ortiz to move away from the structure, he said.
Firefighters soon arrived and began battling the blaze, which they had under control in a relatively short time.
Investigators Bobby Burleyson and Deborah Horne with the Rowan County Fire Marshal’s Office were on the scene and said the fire remains under investigation.
Departments responding to the blaze included Pooletown, Rockwell Rural, Liberty, Richfield and the Rowan County Rescue Squad.