Fire damages historic house downtown

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Mena Deaver looked on the bright side Tuesday morning even though her Victorian house on South Union Street had just been badly damaged by fire.

&uot;I’m just so grateful that no one was in the house when it caught fire,&uot; she said.

Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne said the likely cause of the fire was a bad cord on an orbital sander being used to refinish the floors.

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&uot;There was a sander on the living room floor with a cord running to the plug,&uot; he said. &uot;There was a two-foot hole burned in the floor right on the cord.&uot;

No other ignition source was found, Winborne said. The fire apparently burned down through the wood floor and over to a pier of the house where it ran up the wall and into the attic, he said.

Firemen at the Central Fire Station got the call at 7:25 a.m. Tuesday and reached the scene minutes later.

Much of the interior of the house was damaged, Winborne said.

&uot;There was a lot of major damage inside the house,&uot; he said. &uot;It gutted out the attic pretty good.&uot;

Deaver just got off work as a personal sitter at 7 a.m. Tuesday and was driving by her house to see that it would be ready for her move into the house today. &uot;That’s when I saw the smoke,&uot; she said.

A neighbor walking his dog ran to call 911 while Deaver drove to the fire station to report the blaze.

For the remainder of the morning, Deaver sat on a neighbor’s porch across the street and watched firemen fight the fire as smoke drifted from her roof.

&uot;It’s a humdinger, isn’t it?&uot; Deaver said.

Deaver, who has owned house for two and a half years, was just finishing renovation of the structure and was scheduled to move in this morning. &uot;I moved out Oct. 1 for the renovation and had movers lined up to move me back in tomorrow,&uot; Deaver said. &uot;Man-made things can be replaced but not life or limb. God is good. Somebody up there loves me.&uot;

Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation said the house appears on insurance maps as early as 1904 and stylistically dates to 1895.

Miller went to the site of the fire Tuesday morning and said it appeared restorable.