Owner escapes, three pets perish in Helms Road fire

Helms Road fire_sliderHelms Road fire_slider

STANLEY, March 20 — Fire Chief Terry A Pettit reported that the Stanley Fire Department responded to a house fire at 8:03 am on Wednesday, March 20 at 154 Helms Road about five miles east of Stanley. The 2.5-story, wood frame home was fully ablaze when firefighters arrived, according to Chief Pettit.

The home’s owner Pamela Hansen was awakened when she started to smell smoke and heard the smoke alarm going off downstairs, according to the fire chief. She attempted to leave the house by going downstairs, but was unable to do so because of the smoke. Hansen was then forced to climb out of an upstairs window and onto a porch roof along with one of her dogs and started shouting for help, according to Pettit.

Fortunately, Carlton Shifflett a neighbor, who was leaving for work, noticed her on the roof and was able to get a ladder out of a nearby building and place it against the porch so she could climb down. Chief Pettit reported Hansen was transported to Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and later released.

A dog and two cats perished in the fire.

Chief Pettit credited Shifflett with helping save Hansen’s life, along with the smoke alarm alerting him of the fire downstairs. The house is considered a total loss and estimated damage is around $300,000. The house is insured. Hansen is currently staying with friends.

It appears the fire started from a heat lamp on the front porch, according to the fire chief.

It took nearly an hour to bring the fire under control, and units were on the scene for nearly four hours extinguishing the fire. The Stanley Fire Department responded with five trucks and 16 members.

Due to the distance from town, tankers were brought in from the Luray and Shenandoah Fire Departments to shuttle water. The Luray Fire Department also stood by at the Stanley fire station, and Page County EMS responded with two units. The Page County Sheriff’s Office assisted with traffic control, and the Virginia Department of Forestry sent one unit.

Chief Pettit also stated that due to the fact that the home was located in a heavily wooded area — and the predicted high winds on March 20 — a foam unit from Merck was called in to the scene to completely cover the home and the area around it .

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By hadem