MOUNT CARMEL - The cause of a fire that destroyed a home in Mount Carmel Wednesday morning is still under investigation.
The Mount Carmel Volunteer Fire Department was initially called to 816 Seven Oaks Drive at 6:40 a.m. on a report of an explosion. Upon their arrival, however, firefighters found the residence fully engulfed in flames.
Fire Chief Chris Jones said the explosion was likely the hot water heater, which apparently burst under pressure due to heat and was found in pieces after the fire was extinguished.
Departments from Church Hill, Carters Valley and Goshen Valley assisted at the scene. The biggest challenge to putting out the fire was maintaining a supply of water.
"Due to the location, we had to rely on water being trucked in by tankers, and we set up a drop tank and began supplying water," Jones said. "Upon arrival the house was fully engulfed, and the back portion on the second floor of the house was already caving in when we got there. Our main concern was a secondary structure on the property, and we had to knock the fire down quickly on that side, which we did.
"Because of the type of structure it was and the size of it, it went up pretty quick."
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Jones said he knows an electric heater was left on inside the residence when the homeowner, Eva Manning, left for work about 5:45 a.m.
No one was at home when the fire started.
It wasn't a pleasant operation for firefighters. The weather was windy and cold, and the mist from the hoses was blowing back on firefighters and freezing.
"We were pretty much walking icicles," Jones said. "We did have to call a city crew to come up and put salt on the road where water was getting on the road and freezing, to keep the trucks from sliding."
The Red Cross arrived on the scene to assist Manning, but Jones said she had friends and family who were going to help her with clothing and shelter.
"Everything is pretty much gone," Jones said.