A fire completely destroyed a home on Theatre Road on Wednesday of last week. Chief Rosser Wells of the South Hill Volunteer Fire Department said that the fire call came in at 8:55 a.m., and when the firefighters got to the scene the home was already fully involved. Two people were in the home at the time, a man and his 17-year-old son, neither of whom were seriously injured. Wells said the son was asleep upstairs when he was awakened by a smoke detector and made his way through the fire and outside. Wells said the smoke detector may have saved the young man’s life.
“We’d have probably had a fatality if the smoke detector … didn’t wake him up,” Wells said.
The father, who did not wish to be identified, said that his family had lived in that house for 40 years. He and his son lost everything. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
The 911 call came in Wednesday from a relative of the survivors, who reported the fire after stepping outside of his place of employment across the street and seeing the smoke.
Wells said that, initially, South Hill, La Crosse, and Buckhorn responded to the call, but on the way over he asked for assistance from Palmer Springs and Boydton so they would have more water and also because of the heat.
“The temperature was in the 90s, and the humidity was real high, and a person can’t stand but about 10 to 15 minutes of that at a time before he has to rest,” Wells said.
All told, Wells said about 40 people worked at the scene, with 16 firefighters from South Hill. The scene was active until about 12:30 p.m.
“Every community that has a volunteer fire department is very lucky to have those people that are willing to come out, day or night, and volunteer their time to help somebody else when they’re in trouble,” Wells said. “All the communities could use more volunteers that are willing to come out and do, and work.”
Wells said he would like to thank everyone who helped with the response, including all of the volunteer fire departments, the Southside Rescue Squad, the Mecklenburg County 911 Dispatch, the South Hill Police Department, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, and the Virginia State Police.
Wells said it can be difficult to get enough volunteers to respond during the day, but he said that South Hill is fortunate that some of its employers will let their employees respond to major calls from work, and the community as a whole is supportive of the fire department.
“A whole lot of times, volunteer agencies are taken for granted until you need them, and we are very lucky here in South Hill, because the community really supports us and helps us with anything we need when we have our fundraisers, our suppers, our bucket drives,” Wells said.
Wells said the fire department had no trouble finding the house in this case, but he still wants to encourage the community to make sure their house numbers are easily visible and on both sides of the mailbox or post. He also said that people need to make sure they have smoke detectors and change the batteries at least twice a year.