Electrical Short Suspected as Cause of House Fire
An electrical short may have been the cause of a house fire that completely destroyed the childhood home of Lexington’s Mayor Robert Lee Willrich, Sr. on Wednesday, March 6, at about 4 in the afternoon. James Kelinski, who purchased and moved the home to his family’s property in 1994, was coming over the hill on the back side of his land, which is on FM 1624 just outside of Lexington, when he saw the smoke. In the meantime, his wife, Sylvia DeClue, who was in the new addition to the home, smelled smoke and called 911 when she realized how serious it was.
“I came over the hill and I knew something was very wrong. When I reached the house, it was already totally engulfed in flames. William Dowdy, who lives across FM 1624 from us, was already there trying to put out the flames,” said Kelinski.
Luckily, no one was hurt. The Lexington Volunteer Fire Department, along with Fedor VFD, was at the scene within minutes of being dispatched, but the roof was already collapsing.
The new addition, which was connected to the older home by a hallway, was sided in hardiplank. DeClue said she thinks that’s what kept the fire from spreading to the rest of their living quarters. The only damage to the newer portion of the home was to her bedroom, where a window had broken out, the curtains were melted and one of the bed posts was smoldering. DeClue said the heat must have been tremendous.
Both James and Sylvia expressed sincere gratitude to the firefighters and to William Dowdy for their heroic efforts. “We lost all of our antiques and some family heirlooms, but no one was hurt. That’s the good news in all of this,” said Kelinski.
Firefighters worked until about 7 p.m. to extinguish the fire. Kelinski thought that an electrical saw plugged into an outdoor outlet that he had used may have been the culprit that started the fire.