• A family in Hothouse lost their home on Oct. 22, when a fire spread rapidly and burned it down to the foundation.
    A family in Hothouse lost their home on Oct. 22, when a fire spread rapidly and burned it down to the foundation.

Family loses home, dogs in rapid fire

    Hothouse – It did not take long to lose everything.
    A house fire engulfed a family home in the western part of Cherokee County on Oct. 22, burning two cars and nearly all the possessions of a local family of six. The fire also took the lives of five puppies.
    But then again, they did not actually lose everything.
    “We are blessed that all of us are alive,” said Careen Virtz, whose parents escaped the fire thanks to their outside dogs barking to alert them of trouble.
    Virtz’s parents, Patricia and Gerald Wallens, were resting in bed when the fire started in the attic, though the family has not been told yet how it began. The dogs woke Patricia, and she immediately saw the smoke coming out of an upstairs window.
    When Patricia tried to open the back doors, they came right off the frame. She only had just enough time to get her husband out of the house and grab a water hose before realizing it was too late to do anything.
    “The fire spread so fast, it completely burned everything down the foundation,” said Virtz’s son Donnie Wright, who had been out with his mother, wife Amanda and 3-year-old son Eric.
    “We are blessed the dogs alerted her,” Virtz said. “Our outside dogs survived along with our horse, whose name is Miracle.”
    Virtz said it was difficult for her parents to watch all they had worked for go up in flames. She said all of her grandson’s toys burned except for a Radio Flyer wagon.
    “The Lord is going to bless us,” Virtz said. “What the devil has taken, He will replace. Material things can be replaced, but your family cannot.”
    Virtz said insurance did not cover the damage to the cars because they had been paid off. The family lost a month’s worth of medication that was recently filled, causing a bevy of insurance-related headaches.
    The family was staying at a local hotel and looking for a rental opportunity over the weekend. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the family (www.gofundme.com/family-home-destroyed-in-fire-2vxd7fg) and an account has been set up at BB&T Bank under Virtz and Wright’s names if anyone would like to help the family.

The Cherokee Scout

Mailing Address:
89 Sycamore St. 

Murphy, NC 28906
Phone: 828-837-5122
Fax: 828-837-5832