A Bellevue family is without a home after fire swept through their century-old residence Tuesday morning.
Tina Carr, Bob Blair and their two teenage daughters were not home when the flames erupted but arrived later to find charred walls, tattered shingles and a nearly collapsed roof. Pieces of the melted siding crumbled from the exterior as firefighters doused it with hoses.
Paula Crosby, who co-owns the home at 114 Lawrence Ave., said she stepped outside upon hearing the sirens and saw flames shooting out of the first-floor windows.
"I saw fire coming from the basement, the entry-way of the door and the two front bedrooms," Crosby said. "I just watched it go up in flames."
Crosby said her grandfather, Robert Keagy Sr., built the house more than 100 years ago. The previous owner, Betty Dendinger, died last month, leaving the house to her four granddaughters.
Crosby said she and her family recently renovated the house, adding new carpeting and a remodeled kitchen.
"It's a beautiful old house," said Charlie Claus, one of at least 20 neighbors who lined the street to watch firefighters struggle to contain the blaze as smoke billowed from the roof. "It's a shame."
The Bellevue Fire Department responded to the call about 9:24 a.m., aided by the Huron River Joint Fire District and Margaretta Township Fire Department.
Bellevue Fire Department Lt. Tony Schaffer said the fire appeared to be accidental and started on the first floor. However, Schaffer declined to say what may have started the fire.
"The insurance company needs to do their investigation, and the state fire marshal was in there to do theirs. We just want to make sure that two investigations concur," Schaffer said.
The local Red Cross housed the displaced family at a local hotel, Schaffer said.
Nearby resident Jan Kirsch said she could see the smoke from her window.
"The way the wind was blowing, it just catches the flames and they can't control it," she said. "The houses are so close together, it's scary."
By 11:30 a.m., firefighters had extinguished the blaze but remained on the scene in case it started up again.
Damage estimates were not available.
Register reporter Michael Fitzpatrick contributed to this story.