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The cause of a house fire remains undetermined Thursday after investigators sifted through the remains of a Newton mobile home destroyed in a late-night blaze.
Fire broke out Wednesday night in a double-wide manufactured home at 1870 April's Way off Sigmon Dairy Road in Newton. The home was a total loss, and two vehicles were damaged from exposure to flames and smoke.
Brenda Ledford, who lives at 1859 April's Way, called 9-1-1 at 11:48 p.m. Wednesday when she discovered her neighbors' mobile home was on fire. She has a motion-detector light on her front porch, and she thought the light from the flames was actually her porch light.
"I saw a brightness, but it was an orange glow," Ledford said. "Then I looked outside and saw the flames."
After calling 9-1-1, Ledford slipped on her shoes, grabbed the cane she uses to help her walk and drove across the street to the house, which was already engulfed in flames on its right side.
She got out of the car and used her cane to beat on the left side of the house in hope of alerting anyone inside to the dangerous flames lurking just feet away. Ledford said she didn't know if anyone was at home, but she didn't want to take that chance.
Ledford was outside the house when Newton firefighters arrived on the scene six minutes after she called 9-1-1. Newton Fire Chief Kevin Yoder said about 50 percent of the house was involved in the fire at that time.
Firefighters assumed someone was in the house when they arrived on the scene, and Yoder said they did multiple checks before determining that no one was home when the fire broke out.
A Newton Fire Department supervisor saw flames coming from fire about 30 seconds before responders arrived on the scene. As soon as he saw the flames, the supervisor requested one tanker truck and two fire personnel from Maiden Fire Department for mutual aid.
About 25 firefighters battled the blaze until it was under control 33 minutes later at 12:27 a.m. Yoder said the home's residents, Yee Yang and Kue Yang, who are father and son, respectively, arrived at the house. Yee Yang told firefighters his girlfriend was the last person at the house, and she left about 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Yoder said the fire appears to have started in a porch area that was added on to the 1,152-square-foot structure. Investigators determined the fire caused about $45,000 in damage. The residence itself had a pre-fire value of $45,000.
Yoder said an insurance company will likely consider the house a total loss.
A pick-up truck parked in the home's yard was destroyed from fire exposure, and another vehicle parked nearby received minor damage.
Bill Bump, with the Catawba County Fire Marshal's Office, said investigators returned to the scene of the fire Thursday morning and were unable to determine, for certain, what caused the fire. Fire marshals did determine, however, that the fire wasn't intentionally set.
"No evidence is leading us in that direction right now," Bump said.
Newton responded to the fire with three engines and a ladder truck.
Firefighters also called on Conover Fire Department to man its north-side station and Bandys Fire Department to man the central station.
Yoder said the county's recent dry weather didn't affect how quickly the fire spread.
"Certainly, that was a concern," he said. "But that didn't contribute to the spread of the fire."
Thursday morning brought rain to April's Way, a sight Ledford was glad to see.
"It's been so dry here lately," she said. "I was so worried that the fire would spread."