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Home destroyed by Friday fire

Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed a Marshall Avenue house early Friday.

A Marshall Avenue home, vacant except for a canine occupant that lost its life, was destroyed when fire swept through the structure around 1 a.m., Friday, February 24.

The home’s western end was already engulfed in flames when the first Atmore Fire Department fire-suppression units arrived. It quickly spread through the house’s upper portion, and within 10 minutes almost the entire structure was ablaze.

The fire’s flare could be seen from downtown Atmore, and thick smoke blanketed a large portion of the city, including the area around the Pensacola Avenue fire station from which one of the units was dispatched.

As firemen rushed to battle the blaze, city police officers manned hydrants, stretched and pulled kinks from hoses and otherwise helped so that firefighters could concentrate on attacking the swiftly spreading flames.

Several small explosions inside the house sent window glass flying for short distances as the firefighting effort continued, and pieces of heated Masonite siding buckled and tore loose from the exterior walls.

Police blocked both ends of Marshall’s 100-block, from Owens Street to West Nashville Avenue (U.S. 31) as firefighters fought to contain the blaze and prevent it from spreading to houses on either side of the burning structure.

Poarch firefighters joined the effort, and a Poarch police unit responded. Firemen from Walnut Hill were also dispatched under a mutual aid protocol but were turned around and sent back to their home station before they could get to Atmore.

Ina Stafford who owns the home, which was reduced to the barest remnants of a shell, reportedly moved to a new residence, a block away, more than a year ago.

Since she wasn’t allowed to have pets in her new residence, she made daily trips to her home to feed her canine pet, which was unable to escape and perished in the fire.

Fire officials have not been able to determine the actual cause of the destructive fire, but a preliminary investigation indicates that it started in the home’s attic or upper portion.