ROCKINGHAM — A downtown home now has a huge hole on the back side after a fire ripped through the kitchen late Monday night.
The Rockingham Fire Department received the call just after 10 p.m. and Chief Harold Isler said there were heavy flames showing upon arrival at the house on Robinson Street.
While en route, Isler said firefighters heard initial reports that neighbors thought someone was still inside. After battling back the flames to gain entry, a quick sweep was made to look for possible victims. A more thorough search was made later, but no bodies were found.
Isler said he marked the cause of the fire as “undetermined,” because it was hard to tell if it was intentional or an accident.
During his preliminary investigation, Isler said he discovered that a knob for one the stove burners had been turned on low and that there were several items of clothing and kitchen items on the stove top. He said it appears those items caught fire and dripped into a nearby trash can, sending flames up the wall.
He said there was significant fire damage (25 percent) to the back side and kitchen area of the house, but only moderate smoke damage throughout.
“It could have been a lot worse if it had gotten to the attic,” he said, adding that crews stayed til about midnight to prevent hot spots from rekindling.
The owner of the house said that tenants were in the process of moving out earlier in the day, according to Isler.
The department had 14 firefighters on scene, along with two engines, two command vehicles and an equipment truck. Four others stayed behind at the station on standby.
The investigation was turned over the Rockingham Police Department. Results were not known late Tuesday.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.