The Greensboro Fire Department has determined that the fire at 923 Carr Street started at the back porch, but the specific cause hasn’t been identified. The report estimates damage to the structure at $44,145, 50 percent of its previous value. Damage to the Chen family’s possessions was estimated at $13,243.
The first call reporting the fire came in at 4:49 a.m. on May 13. The first fire truck is listed as arriving at 4:55. All members of the family had been able to get outside.
The subsequent investigation identified two possible causes of the fire on the back porch, an issue that remains under investigation. The fire department’s report was obtained through a public records request to the city. Here’s the narrative section:
Car 1 was dispatched reference a possible structure fire along with additional units. Communications advised that they were receiving multiple calls and reports indicated that the structure was fully involved.
Engine 4 arrived first at dispatched address finding a single story residence with heavy fire showing from the roof. Engine 4 assumed Command and initiated operations in an offensive mode. Engine 4 established water supply and performed a blitz attack with deck gun knocking down most of the fire. Engine 5 and Engine 8 were assigned to protect exposures bravo [the left side of the house] and charlie [the back] then moved inside to extinguish rest of fire. Ladder 5 was assigned to Search by Command. Car 1 arrived and took transfer of Command from Engine 4 assigning them as Fire Attack with Engine 5 and Engine 8 assisting. Ladder 11 was assigned as RIT [rapid intervention team for the rescue of firefighters in trouble] and Rescue 5 was assigned to protect exposure on the delta [right] side. Units worked and were able to bring fire under control and no one or pet was found in the home. Air 1 was on scene to provided rehab to working units.
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas were requested and responded to control their perspective utility. The occupants declined assistance from the American Red Cross. Fire and Life Safety assisted Car 33 in determining the cause of the fire which remains under investigation. Car 1 performed shift change on scene between assigned personnel.
Based upon the information available at the time of this report and after conducting a systematic fire scene examination, inspecting the physical evidence, reviewing photographs and witness observation, timeline analysis and employing the scientific method by means of formulating and discarding hypotheses; it is the opinion of Investigator B.H. Crump that the fire was undetermined due to multiple possible causes of ignition in the area of origin. The area of origin was determined to be on the back porch. With a mass loss and direction of fire travel on the wall studs and saddle burning to the floor joist. There was discarded smoking material being placed in a plastic container and a 240 outlet with oxidation, and damage to the wires. These area were located in two separate areas. Heavy charring to wall studs, mass loss at the lowest portion near the 240 outlet, the extent of damage to that area and other ordinary combustibles on the porch, and patterns point back to two possible areas the fire ignited.
The fate of the house is unknown. Workers there this week indicated that the owner plans to demolish it, possibly within days. That work would require a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission; no application for a COA had been received, Mike Cowhig of the city’s Historic District Program said earlier this week. By law, the commission cannot prevent an owner from demolishing a building in a historic district, but it can order a 365-day waiting period.
Several neighbors have expressed interest in buying the property if the owner sells it.