An early morning fire on Birch Street in Gassaway has destroyed four structures and damaged a fifth. Braxton Control began by alerting the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department of a report of flames visible from an unoccupied house on Brich Street just before 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, November 5.
Due to the proximity of structures in the residential neighborhood, alerts were also sounded for Sutton, Frametown, Chapel and Burnsville VFDs to assist. More than fifty volunteers battled the blaze for nearly 6 hours before extinguishing the flames. By that time, three additional structures were destroyed and a fifth sustained substantial damage.
Officials reported that the house at 218 Birch Street was owned by the late Tim Withrow. Buildings at 220 and 222 were owned by Aaron James. One was rented to the Department of Highways as a field office. The third, located at 224 Birch Street was known as the late Goldie Powers residence. A fifth home, owned by Christopher Locke, received substantial damage from the intense heat.
A tanker truck was deployed from Gilmer County to help supply water.
One firefighter was reportedly transported from the scene by ambulance. It was believed that he was suffering an undefined medical emergency.
Gassaway and Frametown VFDs returned to the scene Sunday afternoon to extinguish hot spots. The State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating. Area residents had reported that vagrants had been seen in and around the abandoned house where the blaze began. That investigation is continuing. No estimate of damages has been released.