Smoke, flames consume Hamlet area home

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery

HAMLET — A couple lost nearly the entire contents of their home and one of their five dogs in a Wednesday afternoon fire outside of Hamlet near the South Carolina border.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Hamlet Fire Department Lieut. Richard Lassiter, left, applies oxygen to Rambo, a pet Chihuahua, with the assistance of owner Charles Kraus. Rambo made it, but one of the couple's six dogs was not as fortunate.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Hamlet Fire Department Lieut. Richard Lassiter, left, applies oxygen to Rambo, a pet Chihuahua, with the assistance of owner Charles Kraus. Rambo made it, but one of the couple’s six dogs was not as fortunate.

Firefighters with the Hamlet Fire Department responded to the call at 1:19 p.m. at 168 Slade-Douglas Road, located off Airport Road between state routes 177 and 38, less than four-tenths of a mile from the state line. Upon arrival, firefighters saw smoke billowing from the single-story home and the majority of the couple’s yard was charred.

Much of the structural damage appeared to have been contained to the garage area but there was smoke damage throughout and the fire tore through the back side of the home as well.

Investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and County Ranger Matt Gordon of the North Carolina Forest Service also responded to the scene. The two agencies shared responsibility in determining the cause of the fire. As of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the investigation was ongoing.

Kraus said that other than the dogs, he was home alone Wednesday afternoon loading a trailer with items he planned to take to the landfill.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

“I heard a loud pop,” Kraus said, “and suddenly the field was on fire.”

Kraus said he took steps to extinguish the fire himself but the Bermuda grass was dry and easy to burn.

“I got most of it out” in the field, Kraus said, but “I turned around and the whole house was on fire.”

At about that time, Kraus’ partner, Karen Gallagher, was getting off work from her job at America’s Best Value Inn in Rockingham. She’d called home to ask Kraus to bring the car to come get her. That’s when he told her the news.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com A Hamlet firefighter searches for hot spots inside the exterior wall of a Hamlet area home.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
A Hamlet firefighter searches for hot spots inside the exterior wall of a Hamlet area home.

“Have you called 911,” Gallagher said she asked. The answer was no, Kraus said — he was trying to put the fire out himself.

“Then hang up and I’ll call 911,” said Gallagher, who has lived in the home for four years and had plans to buy it.

Gallagher arrived on the scene just as one of the couple’s six dogs seemed to recover from smoke inhalation and exhaustion. Hamlet Fire Department Lieut. Richard Lassiter applied an oxygen mask to Rambo, a Chihuahua. Another Chihuahua, 12-year-old Gypsy, was later found inside the home. Kraus said Gypsy was likely afraid of all the commotion and trying to hide.

Other than the loss of Gypsy, Gallagher was focused not on the high-value contents inside their home but of personal treasures, including 15 years worth of family genealogy. In addition, she is expecting a great-grandchild in March and the clothes she’s already bought as gifts were likely destroyed, she said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Gallagher said the owner of America’s Best Value Inn was able to accommodate her and Kraus for at least the night. It was unclear how the couple planned to care for the dogs in the immediate future.

The home was insured, Gallagher said.

 

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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