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Fire damages house

A Suffolk resident arrived home from work Thursday night to find her home damaged by flames.

The fire broke out just before 6 p.m. in the 300 block of Turlington Road, damaging a utility room and kitchen, and causing heavy smoke and heat damage to the rest of the house, said fire officials. The damage is estimated at $45,000 for the building and contents.

Nobody was home at the time of the fire, said Capt. Jim Judkins, spokesperson for the Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue. A pet hamster was the only casualty.

The cause of the fire was likely a dryer vent clogged with lint, said Judkins. The blaze appeared to have started in or around where the dryer vents to the outside.

The resident, who declined to speak to members of the media, arrived at the house about 7:45 p.m., and covered her mouth in shock at the scene.

The woman told fire officials that she had smelled something unusual coming from her dryer earlier in the day, but had not found anything that concerned her upon investigating further, said Judkins. She then emptied the dryer of clothes and turned it off, and left for work approximately 4 p.m. Two hours later, the house was ablaze.

She came home Thursday night to find the utility room, where the dryer is located, destroyed. Several Christmas presents were also lost, she told fire officials.

The Suffolk chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting with lodging and basic necessities.

The house is owned by Alton Wright, who rents the house to the tenant. Wright does have insurance, said Judkins. Wright could not be reached by phone before the News-Herald deadline.

Firefighters had the blaze under control

27 minutes after the first call came in. Several passers-by had reported the blaze by cell phone, said Judkins. He attributed the quick response time to receiving the call early in the progress of the fire.

“The key to getting there early is getting an early call.”

tracy.agnew@suffolknewsherald.com