The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 29, 2013

Fire destroys Norwood lake house

Cause of fire undetermined

By Ritchie Starnes, News Editor

Sunday, December 29, 2013 — A Norwood couple escaped harm from a fire that destroyed their lake house Thursday night.

Gay Drye said she and her husband, Kenneth, were at the lakefront home eating dinner when she smelled smoke. When she went to investigate, they discovered the rear of the house was ablaze.

They raced for a garden hose to combat the 8 p.m. fire, but flames quickly spread.

“We tried to save it, but it’s an older house with older wood,” Gay Drye said. “What it didn’t burn, it melted.”

The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

Investigators concluded that the blaze at 9723 Pine Tree Drive originated on an open deck, but have yet to pinpoint the exact cause, according to Michael Roark, Stanly County fire marshal.

“The fire originated on the back deck and progressed through the house,” Roark said. “Cause of the fire is undetermined, but not suspicious in any way. We just couldn’t nail down an exact cause.”

There are three possible causes, all stemming from a potpourri burner that was located on an exterior deck, Roark said. The device reportedly is similar to a crock pot with a built-in lamp, he said.

A drop cord connected to the burner was run through a window and into the house.

“What we can’t rule out is if there was a malfunction with the potpourri burner or if some combustible material came in contact with the device or cord,” Roark said.

The other possibility is the cord itself. Roark said there could have been a malfunction with the cord that generated enough heat to cause the fire.

The Dyres were home alone at the time, awaiting to celebrate Christmas with family on Saturday. All of the presents were consumed in the fire, Gay Drye said.

They called 911 as soon as they observed the fire.

“It pretty much destroyed the house,” said Vaughan Rummage, fire chief of Norwood Center Rural volunteer fire department.

There was no need for Red Cross services since the Dryes’ primary home is in Oakboro.

Their burned house has been in the family for years. It’s one of the original lakefront homes there, dating back more than 70 years, Gay Drye said.

“This wasn’t just another home, it was a getaway too,” she said.

Gay Drye said they plan to rebuild the second home.

Heat from the blaze also damaged the siding of a neighboring home that’s currently for sale.

In addition to Center Rural as the primary responders, firefighters from Norwood (city) and Aquadale also responded.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie E. Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or at