Middletown house fire does $25K in damage, cause unknown

Michael Ivory was taken to Atrium Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries after he ran into the burning house next door to his on North Avenue home early Monday morning, Oct. 31 in Middletown. Firefighters found that nobody was in the house at the time of the fire. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Michael Ivory was taken to Atrium Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries after he ran into the burning house next door to his on North Avenue home early Monday morning, Oct. 31 in Middletown. Firefighters found that nobody was in the house at the time of the fire. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Dogs and the Middletown Division of Fire are being credited for alerting neighbors about a house fire and keeping the flames from spreading to other homes.

Firefighters were called to 1809 North Ave. on Monday morning after neighbors who were awakened by their dogs saw heavy smoke and called 911. Neighbors on both sides of the home checked the residence and realized the woman who lived there wasn’t home, they said.

The fire was reported at 12:30 a.m., and the cause and damage are being investigated by the fire department, according to the report. The home received heavy damage to the north east corner and the basement, fire officials said. The home received $25,000 in damages and $500 in contents were ruined, the report said.

No firefighters or occupants were injured, according to the report.

Neighbors Steve Rothwell and his fiancee, Jonette Helton, were sleeping at the time of the fire and said their golden Labrador, Marley, was barking persistently. Then they heard a loud noise that sounded like someone hit their car, Rothwell said. When Helton opened the front door, she said the smoke was so heavy she “couldn’t see a foot in front of my face.”

Rothwell said he didn’t see his neighbor’s car parked on the street. He said she had been moving items out of the house for the last several days, and Saturday night was the last time he saw her.

Rothwell said Middletown firefighters arrived a few minutes after his fiancee called 911. While they fought the fire, they also made sure it didn’t spread to his house, Rothwell said.

“It was a scary experience,” Rothwell said Monday afternoon as the smell of smoke lingered.

Other neighbors, Michael and Denise Ivory, also woke up to barking dogs. When they went downstairs, smoke was pouring in their living room window.

“Is that our house?” Michael asked his wife.

When he stepped outside, he quickly realized his neighbor’s house was on fire.

“The whole neighborhood was engulfed in smoke,” he said.

Even though the Ivorys have only lived on the street for three months, and barely know their neighbor, he raced next door in his shorts and T-shirt. Before he could enter the residence, the smoke was too much. Ivory, who has asthma, was transported to Atrium Medical Center, where he was treated and released for smoke inhalation he said.