Spencer home a total loss after catching fire Thursday morning - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Spencer home a total loss after catching fire Thursday morning

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Spencer, NC (WBTV) -

SPENCER - A fast moving fire caused by a poorly discarded cigarette destroyed a 102 year old house in the town of Spencer this morning, and for the homeowner it's a case of tragedy upon tragedy.

Thick, choking smoke, and heavy flames could be seen for miles around Third Street. The first call came into 911 just after 10:30 am.

"We were here within minutes," said Chief Jay Baker of the Spencer Fire Department.  "Obviously there were working fire conditions.   You could see several blocks away, heavy smoke, fire coming out of the front of the house."

In a short time more than three dozen firefighters were doing all they could to save the house, and the ones on either side.

"It was really terrible, you know, first time I've seen something like this up close," said neighbor Patrick Cashel.

Cashel and dozens of other neighbors couldn't take their eyes off this sight. Most of them know homeowner Melvin Gladden. He wasn't here when the fire started, but two adults did manage to get out safely. Melvin was at work and arrived shortly to find his home gone.

"One of the neighbors got him and took him in to minister to him," Cashel added.

Gladden's wife passed away just a few weeks ago, and Thursday's fire took his home, his belongings, one car, even a pet boxer dog named Cinnamon.

And while that was going on, firefighters kept trying to put out a stubborn fire, fueled by dry wood, making it difficult and dangerous for them to go inside.

"Many voids are in the walls, ceilings, makes it tough to fight," Chief Baker added.

It took more than hour to bring this fire under control, but the houses on either side were saved with just damage to vinyl siding. That's not the case for Melvin Gladden's house.

"The cars were on fire on the side of the building," said Cashel.   "It was just devastated, it was bad."

On Thursday afternoon Rowan County Fire Marshal Deborah Koontz Horne told WBTV that investigators had determined the fire was started by "poorly discarded smoking material."

The house, located at 604 Third Street in Spencer was built in 1911.

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