Severe smoke damage to residence, garage a total loss
by Keith Stewart
The garage and parts of a home belonging to Gerald and Mary Nolen of Sullivan were severely damaged Sunday afternoon after an ember from a nearby burn barrel ignited a fire, according to Sullivan Fire Chief Mike Piper.
A call was received at 12:34 p.m., and the department’s time of arrival was 12:36 p.m. Piper says the scene was cleared at 2:28 p.m. and that the fire was extinguished around 1:10 p.m.
“The garage is a total loss, and they had a car in there, too, that was a total loss,” explained Piper. The home was damaged on the east end, including parts of a kitchen and dining area.
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“There is a lot of smoke damage,” added Piper. “If I had to guess, there’s probably around $40-$50,000 in structural damage plus whatever the vehicle was worth.”
Though home at the time of the fire, neither of the Nolens was injured.
According to Aaron Derby, a Sullivan resident who says he was visiting his mother who lives nearby at the time of the fire, Mary Nolen was not aware of the fire until he ran into the home to alert her.
“When I pulled up to my mom’s house, I saw a lot of smoke pouring out of the corner of the garage,” said Derby. “I asked a neighbor to call the fire department and then ran over to the house.”
Derby says once he alerted Mary to the fire, she began looking for her husband, who had been in the garage.
“I told her to get out and that I would go look,” said Derby.
The 24-year old ran to the garage that was ablaze only to find Gerald just outside, between it and the home.
Derby says he then ran back inside the home, helped Mary get her shoes, and then helped her outside.
“I’ve never seen fire move so fast,” said Derby. “It probably wasn’t the best idea to go into a burning house, so I don’t want people to think they should every time; it’s not safe. I’m sure the fire department would say the same thing.”