This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.
When Juston Adams woke up early Friday morning, he opened his bedroom door and saw flames climbing the walls and toward the ceiling of his one-story, wooden-frame house on Setzers Creek Road.
After trying briefly to put out the fire, he leaped from a window on the far side of the house, which once belonged to his father. The 8- to 10-foot drop knocked the wind out of him, his brother, Jason Adams, recounted Monday.
“He told me, ‘Jason, I’ve been in wrecks, I’ve been in fights, I’ve been in arguments, but I ain’t never hurt like this,’” Jason Adams said.
Juston reported the fire just before 4 a.m. Friday. By the time it was extinguished, not much was left.
“He lost everything,” Jason Adams said. “There’s nothing left to salvage.”
The northwest corner of the house is still standing, as is the chimney where the fire originated, but the rest is rubble. Adams’ SUV was destroyed in the blaze, and a van that belonged to his employer, Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service, was damaged.
Damages were estimated at $50,000. Inside the home were several firearms that once had belonged to Juston and Jason’s older brother, parts of a collection that had been split between the remaining brothers. They survived a previous house fire, but not this one.
“It’s not the value of the actual firearms,” Jason Adams said, but the guns had sentimental value.
He said that despite losing everything, his brother that, Juston’s main concern throughout the weekend wasn’t for himself.
The fire also cut off a water supply for Jason Adams and his family, who live down the hill from the now-destroyed wooden home. Starting Friday morning, they were without water, which they ordinarily get from a well on Juston’s property. Jason praised his brother for focusing on that rather than his own losses.
“He’s got a burnt house up here and he’s worried about us,” Jason said. “He was more worried about his family getting water than about his own loss. That’s just how he is.”
On Sunday, some of Juston’s co-workers at Roto-Rooter helped dig a trench to re-route the well water. They started around 11 a.m., and by 3 p.m. Jason and his family had their water back.
That’s not the only kindness the family’s experienced in the days since the fire.
Strangers have knocked on Jason’s door and asked if he knew “that guy next door whose house burned down.” They’ve offered everything from clothing to, in the case of one elderly woman, a $100 bill.
“It brings out the best in people in situations like this,” Adams said.
The fire started in the chimney, which didn’t have a flue liner — a lining of fire-resistant materials that can help smoke, gas and fumes ascend — Caldwell County Fire Marshal Robbie Wilkie said.
“Particularly in older homes, chimneys were built out of brick and mortar with no flue liner,” Wilkie said. “Over time the mortar can crack from heating and cooling, residue will build up and flames can escape through those cracks and ignite any combustible material, like wood, surrounding it.”
The Caldwell County Fire Marshal’s Office, Patterson Fire Department, Valmead Fire Department and Yadkin Valley Fire Department responded to the fire.