Fire destroys home; owner injured in blaze

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Son-in-law heard her cries for help from next door

By Tom Wilmoth

A fire in the 1800 block of Lazenbury Dr. in Bedford County Wednesday afternoon left the homeowner with second and third degree burns and her home destroyed. Family members are hoping, however, that Barbara Hamilton will be home for Christmas.

    “She’s doing a little better,” Debbie Bowyer said of her mom, stating that she was still at Lynchburg General Hospital recovering from her burns.

    Firefighters from throughout the county responded to the blaze around 2:15 p.m. and when the first units arrived the home was fully involved in flames, according to Monty Coleman, Fire Chief with the Forest Fire Department.

    Hamilton was in the home when the fire started. Her son-in-law, David Bowyer, heard her screams from next door and helped get her out of the home. Bowyer and his son were in the garage next door when they heard her. Hamilton was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital from the scene. Units responding included those from Bedford, Forest, Big Island, Montvale and Moneta. Lifesaving crews from Bedford and Goode also responded.

    Debbie Bowyer,  who  lives next door to Hamilton, said she takes care of her mom, who has cancer. “We keep a close watch on her,” she said of the family. When her husband got to the house, it was filled with smoke. “All he could see was her feet,” Debbie Bowyer said.

    In just a matter of minutes she said the home was engulfed in flames. “I’m very surprised,” she said of how the fire spread. “It’s a cinderblock home. It really makes your rethink your house and where your children are sleeping.”

    Hamilton was taken to a minivan across the street to stay until rescue crews arrived on the scene.

    According to Coleman, two firefighters sustained minor injuries but stayed at the fire to continue working.

    “They’re OK. They’re still working,” he said at the scene.

    About 25 fire and rescue personnel were on hand Wednesday afternoon helping with the firefighting efforts. Crews worked for several hours at the home.

    Bowyer said the outpouring of support from neighbors and friends has been appreciated. “The neighboring churches and people have been very friendly,” she said. “The outpouring of love around here has been great.”

    Bowyer said when she went to her church, Norwood Baptist, the church had collected money to give to her mom. “That made me cry,” she said.

    Bowyer said she expects her mom to stay with her family until the home can be rebuilt.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Bowyer said it might have been caused by an electric heater or a receptacle.