Fire, smoke damage home in North Hills

NORTH HILLS – A North Hills home suffered significant fire and smoke damage Friday morning, the result of a “storm-related” fire.

Crews from six volunteer fire departments responded to the 200 block of North Hills Friday morning.

Homeowner Joe Maze and his wife Krista think the fire started as a result of a lightning strike in the backyard. Krista Maze said a neighbor claimed to have seen the lightning strike in the backyard and travel up to the house.

Waverly Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry Hefner said the cause of the fire was “storm-related.”

“I’m not sure, but I assume it was lightning,” he said.

Joe Maze said he had gotten up to let the dog out and laid back down in bed just after 3 a.m.

“My wife smelled smoke,” he said. Maze and his wife went down to the basement and discovered the fire.

“We opened the door, saw flames and the glow,” he said.

The Mazes got their kids (ages 9 and 4) and dogs outside. He went back in with the fire extinguisher to try to put out the fire.

“The smoke was too thick,” Maze said.

Hefner said crews were toned out about 3:30 a.m. Fire departments from Waverly, Deerwalk, Vienna, Williamstown, Lubeck and Blennerhassett were called to the scene.

Maze said it felt like a “month” before crews arrived as the family stood in a downpour watching the flames and smoke. The Mazes lived in the house for only a few weeks. The family moved in from Vienna.

The fire started in the basement, near the laundry and expanded through all three floors of the house via a laundry chute. Hefner said the fire burned up through the basement destroying the floor between the kitchen and living room.

“What wasn’t fire damaged; there was a lot of smoke damage,” Hefner said.

The chief credited Maze with preventing additional damage.

“He shut the door and everything, which was great. It kept it from getting too far ahead of us.”

Hefner said when crews arrived no flames were showing on the outside.

“It was still inside, but hard to find the seat of the fire,” he said. “It was all confined until we ventilated it.”

Crews went through a lot of air packs because of the smoke and the heat, Hefner said.

“It was hot and really hard to get to,” Hefner said of the blaze. The main fire was confined to the basement and the first floor, the chief said. It took crews 30 to 45 minutes to get things under control. Hefner said the last crew left the scene around 8:30 a.m.

Maze was flabbergasted by the heat. It melted the curtain rods on the front end of the house, he said. In addition to the fire, the house also suffered a lot of smoke damage, Hefner said. He did not yet have a cost estimate on damage.