CENTERBURG — Personnel from five fire departments responded early Sunday evening to a house fire at 6421 Ball Road, the home of Matt and Becky Payne.
Joe Porter, chief of the Central Ohio Joint Fire District, said around 35 firefighters from the COJFD, Fredericktown, Porter-Kingston, Hartford and Big Walnut departments battled the fire and freezing temperatures into the night.
Four fire engines, five tankers and a squad lined the driveway of the home, stretching onto Ball Road, where firefighters drafted water from a portable pond set up near the tankers.
Homeowner Becky Payne said her husband and daughter were outside cutting wood when they noticed smoke coming from the house. When they went back into the residence they saw flames, and ran out of the house and called 9-1-1.
Porter said flames and smoke were showing when Lt. Jason Whipple and the first engine company arrived. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Porter said it may have started in a back bedroom.
“They attacked the back bedroom right after they got here,” he said.
Porter said the electric service on the side of the house continued to arc during the first hour after firefighters arrived, making it difficult for firefighters to battle the fire on that side.
A Consolidated Electric crew was called to shut off power to the home.
Porter said fire crews moved all operations to the outside after a floor in the house gave way.
Friends and neighbors of the Payne family arrived throughout the evening to offer comfort, and to help move some of the family’s animals to temporary homes.
Firefighters brought out some salvaged belongings, including photos. Porter estimated 75 percent to 80 percent of the home’s contents were destroyed by fire and smoke.
Most of the home was heavily damaged by smoke and fire. Crews remained on the scene into the night, and were called back after the fire rekindled.
The Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted at the scene with warm drinks and food for family members and firefighters.
Payne said the family will be staying with friends until more permanent arrangements can be made. She said her home real estate office also suffered major damage in the fire.
“You really find out who your true friends are during something like this,” Payne said while standing with a crowd of people who had arrived to help.
She said the family would welcome help in the coming days.
“I hope people will put on their Carharts and gloves and help us dig through this stuff,” she said.