Happy Home Fire

John Isom's house is still standing, but it is believed to be a total loss.

The house is still standing but there’s a pretty good chance it is going to be a total loss.

A large farmhouse in the Happy Home community owned by John Isom caught fire last Thursday night. It’s believed to have started in the kitchen, but the condition of the home was unsafe and fire marshal Buddy Pettry said he could not really get into that area to tell more about what might have caused it.

Isom told Pettry he came home from work and stopped at his pasture to feed his horses some hay. He could smell smoke but didn’t think much of it.

“People often burn leaves and that type of thing this time of year,” Pettry said.

When Isom opened the back door of his home, smoke boiled out and flames flashed over.

“We now think the fire had been smoldering for some time,” Pettry said. “What are the 3 things a fire has to have? Fuel, heat and oxygen. When he opened the door, it introduced air to the fire and it took off.”

Guntersville Fire got the call at 8:04 p.m. Engine 2 from Station 2 on the mountain was the first to arrive. Flames were already visible when they got to the home, which is tucked in the edge of the woods on a long drive off the street.

Pettry was the third man on the scene, arriving in his personal vehicle. Because manpower was sparse at that point, he grabbed a hose and became a fireman rather than a fire marshal.

Soon, Engine 1, Chief Brian Waldrop and other reinforcements arrived.

“There’s not a fire hydrant nearby,” Pettry said. “The crew from Engine 1 laid 1,700 feet of 5-inch line. That stuff is in 100 foot sections and it’s heavy. They pumped to Engine 2 to fight the fire.”

He said the crew made an outstanding stop on the fire, including an interior attack.

Lt. Matt Driver, firefighter Todd Downs and pump operator Stephen Oaks were the Station 2 crew making the attack.

“It’s a lot like the law office in Guntersville a couple years ago,” Pettry said. “The building is still standing, but there’s a lot of damage inside.”

From the front, the house hardly looks damaged. But the back of the home is badly charred.

Isom had 3 pet dogs in the home. Two did not survive the fire. The third was missing and believed to be dead.

Pettry said Isom is insured. He was staying with relatives after the fire.

The Guntersville Fire Department put out an “all call” bringing in all available off-duty personnel to help during the fire. It was about more than just the fire scene.

“Our guys are real good about making sure the rest of the city is covered when we have a big event like this, so some of those guys were at Station 1 to answer any other calls that came in,” Pettry said.

While Chief Waldrop directed the efforts at the fire scene, Deputy Chief Brian Walls coordinated coverage of the city from the station while the firefighters on duty were at the fire.

It took the firemen about 4 hours to clear the scene.

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