The historic home next to Hardee’s burned Monday night, the large two-story structure expected to be a total loss.
“We don’t know the cause,” said McMinnville Fire Chief Kendall Mayfield of the 11 p.m. blaze that ravaged the unoccupied house owned by John and Shirley Douglass. “It’s not really safe to have someone crawling around in there because the walls may fall in. The back end is practically gone.”
McMinnville firemen battled the blaze for hours Monday night and into Tuesday morning as flames spiraled into the night sky, visible for miles from downtown. The Fire Department’s tower truck poured water from the air from its perch in the Hardee’s parking lot while firemen attacked the blaze from inside the picket-fenced yard.
“We had lived there for 33 years,” said John Douglass, a longtime educator. “It’s a shame to see it gone.”
Douglass said the house had historic significance as it was built in the late 1800s and was known as the Bostic House. He was summoned to the fire late Monday and arrived to find the wood-framed building beyond saving.
“It will probably have to come down,” said Douglass, noting he has not spoken with insurance adjustors yet.
The unfortunate end to the historic house comes after years of battles between Douglass and the Hardee’s restaurant next door. Douglass complained the restaurant noise made it impossible to sleep. When the new restaurant was built last year, the company was required to build a solid wall between it and the Douglass house, even though the house was vacant at the time.
“We finally gave up having to listen to the constant food orders and moved,” Douglass said, noting that aside from some items in storage, the house was empty when it burned.
As for the cause, Chief Mayfield said it may be difficult to determine given the danger of sending someone inside the unstable residence to investigate. However, the chief pointed out there was active electricity going into the house which could have sparked the blaze. Eyewitnesses on the scene Monday night reported hearing a loud boom then seeing flames.
“It could have been a rat chewing through a wire or anything,” Mayfield noted, admitting without being able to investigate the scene there may be no definitive answer.