It was an unusual fire in that at no time were smoke or flames visible outside the residence at 129 Sizemore Lane, located off of Highway 11-W just west of Surgoinsville.
By the time the family arrived home shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, the fire had smothered itself out.
Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Murrell said Wednesday the house was “airtight,” and fire never escaped into the attic.
“The homeowner came home, opened the door, and felt the heat where the house had been on fire,” said Murrell, who is also a member of the primary responder, Striggersville Volunteer Fire Department. “They called the fire department, we arrived, and there was no fire at the house at that time. It had burned itself out, but not before gutting two rooms completely.”
Murrell said the fire is believed to have started at an electric plug in the living room. He said the family of five — two parents and three children — had been gone several hours when they discovered the damage.
“This fire burned several hours before it put itself out,” Murrell said. “They said there were several plugs in the area where we believe it started.”
Murrell added, “None of the neighbors noticed anything. They had no idea until they got home and opened the door.
“If a window had broken or someone opened a door while it was burning, we’d probably be looking at rubble burned completely down to the ground.”
Although the kitchen and living room were gutted, the entire house suffered heat and smoke damage. Firefighters stayed on the scene for about an hour and used infrared cameras checking for hot spots until they were convinced it was not going to reignite.
Murrell said the house can probably be salvaged but is not habitable at this time. The American Red Cross responded to the scene and provided the family assistance with temporary lodging and other necessities.
“I believe the house can be salvaged, but it’s going to require a lot of cleanup,” Murrell said. “There’s no roof or structural damage.”