GLASGOW – A Barren County home at 258 Whitney Woods Road, near U.S. 31-E, was destroyed by fire Tuesday.
Hiseville, East Barren and Cave City volunteer fire departments and Glasgow Fire Department responded to the scene after being dispatched about 11:55 a.m., as well as Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management, Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services and the Barren County Sheriff's Office.
Neighbors, meanwhile, had helped the two adult residents – sisters Renee Orange and Terri Melton – get out of the single-story, siding-covered house.
John Tooley, who lives four houses over from the one that burned, said he had gone to put a letter in the mailbox and looked over and saw black smoke coming from that direction and wondered who would be burning anything in this dry weather, so he went closer and saw smoke coming from the eaves over the garage.
“I thought I heard somebody. I don't know, but I thought I heard somebody hollering, and then of course I saw the smoke coming out and I thought, 'I'm going to need help,' and I went to beating on [other neighbors'] door, and he went out the back and she came out the front,” Tooley said of David Tolliver and his wife, who live in a house between him and the now burnt house, two doors from each.
David Tolliver went to the back first because that's where the wheelchair ramp was and he knew one of the residents would be in a wheelchair, said his wife, who declined to give her name but said she had called 911 and stayed on the line until they got her neighbors out of their home.
Meanwhile, Tooley said, the sisters were at the front door trying to get out because they couldn't access the back way, but they needed assistance because of the wheelchair.
“We got her out of the door, the one in the wheelchair, and then the other one just came out on her own,” he said.
Their neighbors were able to get them clear of the house, only having to go just inside the door far enough to help them on out.
One of the sisters had to have oxygen, and neighbors also reported hearing a pop or explosion sound.
“I heard the explosion,” Tooley said. “And there was two or three more after we were getting them out of the house, just as we got them out.”
Tolliver's wife wanted to go back in for the pets, but Tooley said told her it was too dangerous.
Tolliver said the sisters had at least two dogs and a cat in the home.
“You couldn't see [anything]. It was just as black as pitch and that smoke would strangle you to death if it hit you in the face. We did good to get them out of the house,” Tooley said. “You couldn't go in.”
Melton had told him she heard something pop in the garage and opened the door to it and there was already a fire there, and she slammed the door and went to get Orange.
He said it was just lucky he went to the mailbox, and he so was glad he did. If the weather had been wetter, Tooley said, he may not have thought as much about the smoke and would have gone on back in his house.
Besides being curious about why someone would have a fire in such dry weather, he said, “it just hit me, 'That's black smoke. Something ain't right there, so I started walking down here.”
A large plume of black smoke was visible for miles at one point.
Hiseville VFD Lt. Jason Blakley provided the identities of the residents in a later phone call with the Glasgow Daily Times. He said both were taken to the hospital by ambulance, though it wasn't necessarily clear at the time whether both were considered patients or one simply went because the other was.
A potential location for where the fire started had been identified but it was still too hot there when he had to leave and transferred command, so they hadn't had a chance to closely access it yet.
Blakley said there were several oxygen tanks in the house, and firefighters had also received reports of one or more explosions.