Fire forces Lake family out, three pets lost

Contributed by Judy Fish, Lake Monticello News

The Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire Department along with Palmyra and Fork Union Fire Companies were dispatched Jan. 5 to 15 Pinehurst Road at Lake Monticello to investigate a report of smoke inside a residence.

“Lake Monticello fire personnel were met by the homeowner who reported that he and his family returned home from a night away from the residence due to the storm, and when he opened the front door, he was met with thick, acrid smoke throughout the residence,” Lake Monticello Fire Chief Richie Constantino said, adding that they also learned there were three cats still inside the home.

Firefighters simultaneously conducted fire suppression activities and a search for potential victims inside the residence, according to the chief. “The fire, which was located in the kitchen area, was quickly knocked down,” he said, adding that one of the cats was found and brought outside where members of the Lake Monticello Fire Department and Fluvanna County Rescue Squad attempted to resuscitate the pet. “Their efforts were in vain—the cat died,” the chief reported. “The same firefighter re-entered the residence and located the other two cats and brought them outside. Both cats were experiencing severe difficulty with breathing. Attempts were also made to save them. None of the cats survived.”

After the fire was extinguished, a search for fire extension and an overhaul of the scene was conducted, the chief said. He said that while smoke inside the entire residence was cleared, the house is uninhabitable and the family will be staying with friends. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental due to electrical issue, according to Constantino.

“I am overwhelmed by the response,” said the homeowner, Brett Philpott, of the Go Fund Me page that has been set up and other offers of help from the community.  “It’s all quite overwhelming.”  Philpott said he and his wife, Misty, and daughters Audrey (13) Talulah (12) and Delilah (11) are staying at a local hotel. 

According to the Go Fund Me page write-up, “after having no power for 2 days, the (family) returned home only to find it on fire.”  Despite major damage and the loss of the family’s cats, the write-up expressed gratitude: “Thank God that they are all safe and their two dogs were spared. They feel blessed to already have their insurance company working for them on temporary housing, but I am sure you can all imagine how devastating this is for the family. I am asking you to give generously to them so that they can get essentials and begin to rebuild.”  To donate to the Philpott family: 

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