By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
A Whitley County man and his two pet bulldogs were looking for a place to stay Friday night, after a fire that afternoon did extensive interior damage and destroyed the rental house where they lived.
The fire began at 3:33 p.m. at the one-story structure on 28 Sycamore Street in Woodbine, just off Route 6. C.J. McVey and the dogs lived in the house, which was owned by Glenn Bolton, who lives down the street in the neighborhood.
McVey was not home at the time of the fire, but his dogs were. He had left the house moments earlier to get a bite to eat, and when he returned, he noticed smoke. He then ran to his neighbor for help and a friend called 9-1-1, while McVey went in to get his dogs and other belongings out of the house.
The Woodbine Fire Department responded to the scene in minutes and put out the fire, which Fire Chief Rick Fore said was accidental.
No one was injured in the blaze. Both of McVey’s pets, English Bulldogs named “Bella” and “Ryu,” are safe.
“I went over to pick up a pizza, then came back, walked in, saw smoke and thought, ‘That isn’t right.’ Then I walked around the side of the house and there was more smoke. Ungodly smoke. I got my neighbor and his friend called 9-1-1, and I went inside to get my dogs, some pictures, my four MMA cage fighting belts, my guitars and some other things,” McVey said after the fire was under control.
While Chief Fore said the fire was accidental, he went on to say the probable cause began with what was caught in a trap.
“The man who lived in the house had two glue traps in the kitchen to catch mice, and he caught a small rat. He reached to get the rat out of the trap, and when he reached to get the rat out, he picked up the electrical cord going to the cook stove, which arced when it hit the gas line. In turn, he goes and calls his dad on what he needs to do. His dad told him to kill the main breaker, which he did.”
One neighbor saw the fire engulf the side of the structure were the double doors and porch were located.
“The main electric wire was on fire, and the whole side of the house caught fire. We called 9-1-1,” said Tabitha Bledsoe, who lives next door.
At one point, firefighters cut a hole in the roof to pour water on the interior of the house. A total of 17 Woodbine firefighters were on the scene to fight the fire, using five trucks — two tankers, two pumpers and a ladder truck. Among those who assisted at the scene were Whitley County EMS, Kentucky State Police and crews from Delta Natural Gas and KU (Kentucky Utilities) who turned off the gas and electricity.
Fire officials declared the structure a total loss. He added the owner had no insurance and will probably tear the wood and brick house down.
McVey’s mother, Goldie, quietly watched as firefighters began to wind down their work after the fire was under control after 4 p.m. She said her son works a third shift, and had been sleeping when he got up earlier that afternoon, before the fire.
“He’s pretty tore up. He had gone to get a pizza and came back and saw the smoke. He got some stuff out and the dogs are safe. We’re not sure what else can be salvaged yet. Thank God he wasn’t here. Just thankful he’s alive.”
While he and his bulldogs are safe, McVey said afterwards he wasn’t sure what they would do next.
“Right now, I’m just going to wing it and be positive. When one door closes, another one opens.”