More than 100-year-old home goes up in flames; teen helps rescue owner

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 11:42 PM EST
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BRAXTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A home filled with lots of history, as it’s been part of the Hamner family for more than a century, went up in flames Monday morning.

“By the time we got down there, approximately 7:15, it was full engulfed in flames,” Patty Sniffin, whose grandparents owned the home originally, told WSAZ. “The home is a little over 100 years old. Originally it was a two-bedroom little cabin with a back porch, and (my) grandma and grandpa raised 12 kids in (it).”

The fire happened just before 7 a.m. along Bens Run Road in Newville, according to Sutton Volunteer Fire Department officials.

Sniffin said her elderly uncle and aunt, two of the 12 kids originally raised in the house, were living in the home. Her uncle and two dogs were inside when the fire started.

“By the time my uncle got up, he couldn’t even see, the smoke was so thick in the house,” she said. “He tried to put it out. When he realized he couldn’t, he called 911.”

As the flames were spreading, a nearby neighbor across the road noticed and woke up her 17-year-old son, Tyler Baldwin.

“My mom came to the door and woke me up. I walked outside and saw that the house was on fire,” Baldwin told WSAZ. “I got up to the house (to see) if anyone was in it, then I looked at the door and our neighbor had not made it out yet.”

Baldwin said it was in that moment he decided to run inside the burning home and pick up Sniffin’s uncle to bring him to safety.

“I had to hurry up and try to get him out because the house was already on fire and it was getting close to being fully engulfed,” he said. “Probably within five minutes after I got him out, it was almost (engulfed). There was no way we could’ve got anyone out.”

“The boy is a godsend because my uncle is 78 (and) he can walk, but it takes a lot for him to walk, he’s on a walker,” Sniffin told WSAZ. “So I don’t know if he would’ve got away from it.”

Sniffin said even though the fire took everything with it, she’s grateful her aunt wasn’t home at the time and her uncle got out safely.

“The first thing out of (my aunt’s) mouth was ‘oh Lord, the pictures, the memories and daddy’s Bible,’” Snuffin said. “It is what it is, as long as the family’s safe and my aunt and uncle are safe, that’s all that matters.”

Sutton, Gassaway and Flatwoods volunteer fire departments responded to the call. Fire officials are still trying to determine what caused the fire.

The family has set up a GoFundMe. If anyone would like to donate, you can tap here.

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