The biggest part of a grand country home between Greenwood and Slidell burned to the ground Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters battled the blaze for seven hours in 99-degree heat. Their efforts saved the south wing of the 3,500-square-foot home.
The house is located in the 6700 block of Farm Road 51 North, just north of County Road 2625.
Red and orange flames poured from the roof of the cream-colored, wood-framed house situated on a ridge overlooking prairie land. A cluster of live oaks shaded the front yard, but gave way to sprawling pasture dotted with thousands of yellow flowers the size of quarters nodding in the dry wind.
Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department was first on scene at 12:15 p.m. They were soon assisted by Decatur, Alvord, Paradise, Era and Krum departments.
“Our engine was first on scene and flames were already venting through the roof,” said Tim Fletcher, assistant fire chief for Greenwood/Slidell. “Decatur arrived about five minutes later and with their help we were able to make entry and sever the fire, saving the south wing of the house.
“All the departments worked real well together.”
Medics tended to firefighters under the shade of the oaks, giving them bottled water and white towels soaked in cold water.
“We had enough firefighters on hand to attack it in crews of three and let three others rest,” Fletcher said. “The medics and Red Cross kept us hydrated.”
A Greenwood/Slidell firefighter got overheated and was given intravenous therapy. He was treated at the scene by Wise County medics. No other injuries were reported.
Red Cross arrived and served food to the men and women who fought the fire all day. Fletcher said the local Red Cross office is looking for additional volunteers.
The home was built in 1986 and valued at $311,000 according to the Wise County Appraisal District. It is owned by Kathy Fleckenstein.
Eighteen-year-old James Fleckenstein had lived in the house since his parents, Mark and Kathy, bought the home when he was one year old.
“It’s just a weekend house now,” said James, who lives with his mother in Krum. “We were in the process of remodeling right now. We just pulled all the carpet out of it and painted it. We had a crew supposed to come in Tuesday and do some more interior work.”
That effort turned to naught as he stared at orange flames leaping from a rooftop quickly diminishing to ash and charred wood. Thick, black smoke dimmed the sun’s glare.
He didn’t know what started the fire.
“It might be electrical, but we just don’t know.”
With no Wise County Fire Marshal it might be a while before the cause of the fire is discovered.
“It’s still under investigation,” Fletcher said. “The county needs a fire marshal. Our department doesn’t have the ability to study the details and forensics of the scene to determine what caused it.”