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Update: Officials identify man found dead in rural Back Bay fire

Virginia Beach rescue officials responded to a fire at a house on the 1600 block of Mill Landing Road in rural Back Bay early Friday, Dec. 11. The fire department reported that one person died in the blaze. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Ed. — From the Sunday, Jan. 3, print edition.

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

BACK BAY – One person died in a fire that engulfed a home in rural Virginia Beach shortly after midnight on Friday, Dec. 11.

In a statement released the morning following the fire by spokesperson Amy Mack, the Virginia Beach Fire Department reported that one fatality resulted from the blaze that consumed much of a house on Mill Landing Road.

The fire department on Wednesday, Dec. 30, identified the victim as Charles S. Harrington, 70, who was the only occupant of the house on the 1600 block of Mill Landing Road. 

Earlier, Mack in an interview said efforts to identify the victim were complicated by the severity of the blaze.

The victim was discovered during operations to fight the fire, according to the Dec. 30 statement released by Capt. George D. Hughes Jr., a deputy fire marshal. 

The fire remained under investigation in late December, Hughes wrote.

Fire and other rescue personnel responded to the house fire on the 1600 block of Mill Landing Road in the Back Bay area shortly after midnight on Friday, Dec. 11.

The fire department reported first responders encountered heavy fire coming from the back of the house when they arrived. 

The house, located off the two-lane road, appeared to be engulfed in flames, according to witnesses. 

A reporter observed significant damage to the structure from the road after 1 a.m.

The fire continued to burn well after an hour after the rescue response, though, from the road, it appeared to have been contained to the structure. Firefighters were working at the scene into the early morning.

Neighbors said they noticed the fire at around midnight and called 911.

Tom Zimmerly, who lives nearby, said he awoke to a loud noise.

“The wife said it was around midnight,” Zimmerly said, speaking to a reporter after 1 a.m. at the scene. “I got up and heard a loud explosion. When I pulled the curtain up, it was all engulfed.”

In the brief statement released the morning after the fire, the department said the house had several cats but “their status is currently unknown.”

The fire department, in statements, included recommendations for citizens to maintain working smoke detectors in their homes and to check them once a month.

Citizens who need a smoke detector in their house can contact the department by calling (757) 471-5826 to participate in the Operation Smoke Detector program. 

It is meant to provide and install, at no charge, smoke alarms for city residents who own and live in the home, according to the department.


Ed. — The initial online story from Friday, Dec. 11, follows.

BACK BAY – One person died in an overnight fire that engulfed a home in rural Virginia Beach.

In a statement released this morning by spokesperson Amy Mack, the Virginia Beach Fire Department reported that one fatality resulted from the blaze that consumed much of a house on Mill Landing Road.

No details about the person were released, such as whether they had been identified yet. Mack wrote only that the department did not know the person’s age. Mack could not be reached this morning for further comment.

In the brief statement, the department said the house had several cats but “their status is currently unknown.”

Fire and other rescue personnel responded to the house fire on the 1600 block of Mill Landing Road in the Back Bay area shortly after midnight on Friday, Dec. 11.

The fire department reported first responders encountered heavy fire coming from the back of the house when they arrived. The house, located well off the two-lane road, appeared to be engulfed in flames, according to witnesses. A reporter observed significant damage to the structure from the road after 1 a.m.

The fire continued to burn well after an hour after the rescue response, though, from the road, it appeared to have been contained to the structure. Firefighters were working at the scene well into the early morning.

Neighbors said they noticed the fire at around midnight and called 911.

Tom Zimmerly, who lives nearby, said he awoke to a loud noise.

“The wife said it was around midnight,” Zimmerly said, speaking to a reporter after 1 a.m. at the scene. “I got up and heard a loud explosion. When I pulled the curtain up, it was all engulfed.”

The fire is under investigation by the Virginia Beach Fire Marshal’s Office and city police.

The fire department statement included a recommendation for citizens to maintain working smoke detectors in their homes and to check them once a month.

Virginia Beach Fire Department personnel are seen at the scene of a house fire on Mill Landing Road in rural Virginia Beach early Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. One person died in the fire, according to the department. No injuries to rescue personnel have been reported. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]


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