CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA—A fire that forced two families from their homes after ripping through a Chesterfield County home Thursday afternoon before spreading to a second home was caused by discarded smoking materials, fire investigators said Friday.
The fire broke out at a home in the 2700 block of Amherst Ridge Way near Colonial Heights. Two families were forced from their homes—one house burned to the ground, while the other was left badly damaged.
Fire investigators said Friday the fire was caused by discarded smoking materials that were left in an ashtray on a back deck. The smoking materials ignited other combustible items in the ashtray, sparking a fire on the deck, investigators said.
The fire started in one home and quickly spread to three others nearby. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze.
The house where the fire started was declared a total loss. But the family that occupied the house to its left is also unable to return home due to damage in the attic.
Two other adjacent homes were also affected; they didn't catch fire, but their siding was melted by the intense heat. The neighbors occupying those homes were not displaced.
"It's devastating," said Alysha Haselhorse, one of six family members who were displaced.
"I was at work," said Ashleigh Haselhorse, also displaced. "I had just left and it's like one minute everything's perfectly fine and the next minute it's like, that's our rooms, that's our house. That's hard work that our mom worked for."
Crews remained on scene for hours putting out potential hot spots. Neighbors say it's easily one of the most tragic things the Amherst community has seen.
"We've seen our fair share of some tragedies within this neighborhood, but nothing as extensive as this," said neighbor Chris Mallory. "This is truly something that we've never been witness to since I've been here."
"An hour ago I was walking home and everything was fine," Alysha Haselhorse said.
Despite the extensive damage, everyone involved is grateful that no one was hurt.
"Thank God everybody made it out OK," Mallory said. "So, it's a blessed day in Amherst."
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