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Four townhouses in the Waterways development near Saunders Point were destroyed in a Saturday morning fire.
According to John Jennings, the county's primary fire marshal for investigation, the call came in at 8:21 a.m. The Saunders Point Volunteer Fire Department is the first responder for that area and units from that fire department were the first to arrive. They were assisted by other fire companies due to the size of the blaze.
The first unit got there quickly, but there was a problem. All responding units brought tankers, which carry a water supply. Tankers, however, can't carry enough water to extinguish a blaze of that size on their internal supply alone. There are no fire hydrants there, nor any other readily available source of large quantities of water. They had to wait until the Smith Mountain Lake Fire Department arrived with their fire boat.
Several hundred feet of feeder lines then had to be hand laid to bring large volumes of water to the firefighters. Meanwhile, the fire continued to consume the townhouses.
"It just goes to prove the need to have fire hydrants," Jennings said.
Jennings said the structure looks like one large building, from the outside, but consists of six units with separating walls between them. Four of these were a total loss and two were damaged.
It could have been worse. Jennings said that these are vacation homes and only one townhouse was occupied that morning. A couple from Winchester was spending the weekend at the Lake. Jennings said the man was still in bed when his wife started yelling at him telling him the place was on fire. He had to walk through smoke to get out but didn't appear to suffer any ill affects. Jennings said that the man did not want to go to the hospital to be checked out.
Jennings said the fire began around the deck at the rear of one townhouse, but the high degree of destruction will make it difficult to pinpoint the cause. The fire remains under investigation.