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Blaze severely damages home

PERRY TOWNSHIP -- Firefighters from three departments battled a blazing fire inside a South Point area home for nearly three hours Thursday morning as the grief-stricken owner could only sit on the lawn and watch.

The fire at the house of Jim Freeman, located at 402 Township Road 1186 (Winfield Drive) began at approximately 10 a.m. The house was fully engulfed, with the second floor the most severely damaged, although the house was not completely gutted, said Lt. Robert Land of the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Freeman, who lives alone, said he was unsure how the fire started, but said he awoke to a smoke-filled house and managed to exit through the front door.

To see his home filled with flames was "truly heartbreaking," he said.

He has lived in the house his entire life and to make matters worse, he said he does not have fire insurance.

Freeman's neighbors helped out by providing him with some clothes and even using a garden hose to pitch in.

At this point it is impossible to tell where or why the fire started, Lt. Land said. The investigation may be more difficult because the owner did not have any idea what happened, he said.

It took the firefighters about an hour and a half to get the fire under control and they planned to stay for at least another hour to make sure all the hot spots were out, Land said.

The call originally came in that someone was trapped in the home but Freeman had made it out by the time firefighters arrived, Land said

More than six trucks and two dozen firefighters from Coal Grove, Perry and South Point volunteer fire departments responded to the call.

Having the mutual aid system was important on a fire like this because it was in the middle of the day when manpower is often short and it was in an isolated spot with little access to water, Land said.

"It is a big help when all the departments work together," he said. "Water is the biggest thing. As long as we can get water, we can get it under control."