A fire destroyed a house and killed two dogs trapped inside early Friday morning in south Wise County.
The fire was first reported shortly after 2 a.m. at a home located on County Road 3791, near the intersection of CR 3690, several miles southwest of Cottondale.
The blaze spread quickly. By the time firefighters arrived, more than half the home was in flames and other nearby structures were threatened. The volunteers contained the fire to the home, but it was a total loss.
Within an hour nothing was left but orange, smoldering remains. Firefighters trudged through ashes as thick clouds of smoke billowed into the cold, night sky, under a low-hanging, pale moon. White, red and blue lights of the fire trucks illuminated the smoke, which was visible for miles.
Tommy Alley, 46, lived at the home with his two dogs, Cooee and Sheba. Alley was not home when the fire started. He thinks a candle he left burning might have touched it off, but the exact cause is unknown at this time.
“Those dogs were like his family,” said Marti Wise, who lives in a nearby home on the property. “My stomach is still churning thinking about those dogs being in there.”
Alley lost almost everything he owned, along with a lot of family memorabilia. He’d lived there for 12 years.
“He lost everything,” said his older brother Donny Alley, who also lives nearby. “Everything but the clothes on his back.”
Alley’s father, Lonny Alley, first noticed the fire. He initially thought Tommy might still be in the home.
“I grabbed a wet comforter and was going to go into the home to see if I could find him,” Wise said. “That’s when I saw the smoke was so black inside you could barely see the flames at the back of the house.”
It looked like it started in the back of the house but quickly spread and swallowed the structure in flames. All those nearby could do was look on.
Volunteer firefighters from Cottondale, Paradise, Salt Creek and Springtown responded along with Wise County medics.