Fire destroys Belpre home

BELPRE – A fire that left a home a total loss broke out around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 2800 block of Frame Drive in Belpre, officials said.

Belpre Fire Chief Bob Frank said no one was injured in the blaze. A cause has not been determined, but fire officials did not believe the fire was suspicious in nature.

The two occupants, owner George VanFossen and his daughter Teresa Wheeler, were able to escape the house at 2808 Frame Drive from a rear exit. Family and friends were looking for their cat, Brutus, who was later discovered alive by police officers.

The fire is believed to have originated at the front porch area where there was a workshop, said Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Cowdery with the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department.

The house is expected to be a total loss, Cowdery said.

Officials said the American Red Cross was called to assist the family, which lost almost all belongings in the blaze.

The initial call was the house was fully engulfed and there was possible entrapment, officials said. Fire crews said the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department was called to assist Belpre crews because they were concerned for the safety of the surrounding houses.

Cowdery said the fire was “fully involved” when crews arrived. He said it was difficult for firefighters to reach a fire hydrant because there wasn’t one on Frame Drive.

The closest hydrant was on Washington Boulevard near the Redwood Restaurant, he said.

“We did have trouble (because) there was no fire hydrant on the street,” Cowdery said.

The fire was under control around 7 p.m., Cowdery said.

Neighbor Vicky Burd said she was getting out of her vehicle after parking in her driveway at 2806 Frame Drive when she noticed the beginning of the fire. She said the flames were low but it didn’t take long for them to do damage.

Two other neighbors were on their way by the house when Burd yelled at them to call 911. The neighbors called in the blaze, and Burd said the response time was quick.

“It just happened so fast,” Burd said. “They’re wonderful neighbors, nice people.”

Burd said she has lived next door to the father and daughter for about five and a half years.

“It started right there in front of the car,” Burd said, pointing to a Chrysler.

Fire crews said the front of the vehicle sustained damage. A damage estimate on the house was not immediately available.

Belpre Volunteer Fire Department had 19 firefighters on the scene to fight the fire and received mutual aid from Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department with 20 firefighters.

Officers with the Belpre Police Department responded to the scene.