Fire Destroys Home in Albemarle County

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

August 8, 2005

An Albemarle County family is without a home Monday after a fire rips through their house, destroying everything. Two of the five residents were home at the time of the fire; one person was a friend of the homeowners who was treated and released from the hospital. Had it not been for the instincts of the homeowners’ 14-year-old son, Monday's outcome could have been much worse.

"I saw smoke and I said 'oh my gosh', the first thing I said was I need to get someone to call 911 to get them out here and the second thing was to get her out," said Landon Hatfiele.

It was around 9 a.m. that Landon Hatfiele first spotted flames coming from the garage of his home along 1250 Raintree Drive. Hatfiele was outside, but a friend of the family's was trapped upstairs inside her room.

"I ran into the house with my shirt was over my face and then I got into her room, got her out the window, jumped off the ledge, and then went and got a ladder," said Hatfiele.

The 34-year-old woman climbed down the ladder to safety. Soon after, Hatfiele's father, Marty Vandelinde, arrived to find a slew of fire trucks and neighbors surrounding his burning home. But his family's home of nine years wasn't his main concern. He said, "Everybody got out and everybody's alive, I can deal with that, you know some of the pets didn't get out, animals and material things are replaceable, but people aren't."

Of the family's four pets, two birds died and two dogs made it. Fire officials managed to salvage Hatfiele's prized speedskate gear and his mother's jewelry box, which was a family heirloom. Still, saving those items are only the beginning of piecing back together a life that took only hours to turn upside down.

"The next step [is to] start rebuilding, go through the house and see what's still good and start all over."

It took firefighters about five hours to put the fire out and two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion. The Vandeline's aren't sure where they'll be staying over the next few months, but for tonight their staying with neighbors.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but officials believe it may be due to an electrical fan in the garage.

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