The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 27, 2013

Elkmont woman survives blaze with poodle

Two dogs, 1 cat unable to escape

By Kim West

ELKMONT — ELKMONT — As wide swaths of pink and lavender cut across the sunset sky on Wednesday, they clashed with the bright orange flames and plumes of puffy, light gray smoke bursting from the blackened remains of a home in northeastern Limestone County.

Slightly shielded from the busy roadway by a row of white dogwood trees, the three-bedroom brick house at 25697 Mooresville Road was reported on fire at 5:43 p.m., according to scanner reports.

Homeowner Beatrice Pogue, 81, was evacuated by her niece, Jan Toon, Jan’s husband, Billy Toon, and Ardmore firefighter Matt Wray, who was driving along Mooresville Road when he spotted the blaze.

The Toons, who live adjacent to Pogue’s property, received a panicked phone call from Pogue after something in the house — believed to be a gas heater — caught fire.

Pogue, who has a myriad of lung and heart problems, was able to escape with her black poodle, Zippy. Two Chihuahuas and one cat were lost in the inferno, said her daughter, Pat Eckstein.

After Pogue was rescued, Wray said the top priority was turning off the gas and electricity to prevent explosions while keeping the fire from spreading beyond the vinyl-sided structure and attached garage.

The flames apparently spread to Pogue’s oxygen tank, which caused an explosion and the massive smoke clouds that could be seen from Interstate 65. Pogue’s son, Buddy Tate of Tate’s Wrecker Service, said his mother had lived in the house for at least 20 years.

Family members at the scene said Pogue was taken to Athens-Limestone Hospital in stable condition. Pogue, who was treated and released, had singed hair and smoke inhalation, and she experienced trouble breathing after losing her oxygen tank.

Firefighters fought the blaze for three hours, finally putting it out by 8:30 p.m., Oak-Grove Thach Capt. Daniel Bryant said. He said the official cause of the fire would be determined by the fire marshal.

“The house was a total loss, and the fire was widespread,” Bryant said. “There was smoke underneath the house, and the roof and walls were caved in. We were spraying water but it wasn’t directly reaching the flames because of all the (debris) in the house.”

More than 30 firefighters from Elkmont, Oak-Grove Thach, Piney Chapel and Ardmore responded to the scene, and none were injured.