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Fire in the night destroys Carlton Street home

A blaze at 3:30 a.m. lit up a Virden neighbourhood

A fiery billowing cloud had a silver lining when a home on Carlton St. in Virden caught fire in the middle of the night. In the early hours, some time after 3 a.m. Thursday, May 12, the sole resident escaped his home unharmed and took refuge with a next door neighbour.

“What a change 24 hours can make!” exclaimed a backyard neighbour. Terry and Joan Johnson live on Essex St., back-to-back with the home on Carlton.

Awakened from sleep, Johnson said “When the second alarm went off, I could see smoke and I heard voices yelling and I wondered if there was a ruckus going on in a backyard of the neighbourhood. Then I realized that there was a fire in our (neighbour’s) backyard. “

From their back deck, all the Johnsons could do was watch the devastation.

“Within seconds everything flashed over in the house.” As it burst into flames, they desperately hoped no one was inside.

Johnson said the fire department arrived quickly. Wallace District Fire Department had been called to an accident on the highway near Hargrave at 3:30 a.m., before the fire call.

WDFD social media page said the housefire was a serious one. By 7 a.m. they had contained the fire. However, it flared up and firefighters returned about 7:30 a.m. to douse it again.

“It was rather fortuitous that they were all geared up and were able to attack the fire quickly,” noted Johnson.

It was a windless night and the fire was contained. “We were fortunate, it was humid conditions and the smoke went straight up in the air and didn’t affect us unduly. And nobody was hurt.”

A neighbour’s home ablaze in the night is devastating. As things within the home caught fire there were pops and explosive flashes with the hydro line downed.

“In some ways it’s almost like a death in the family, watching the house (across the back lane) get torn apart by fire,” said Terry Johnson.

In the light of day, all that’s left is a charred shell.