Fire damages 19th-century house

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

CENTREVILLE &045; The historic Centreville House was heavily damaged by fire Monday night.

&uot;It started upstairs in my son’s room.

We heard a loud pop and ran up there,&uot; said John Chapman, who along with his wife, Jacquie, bought the 19th century boarding house and opened a bed and breakfast in 2000.

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Chapman &045; whose nose was burned in his effort to control the blaze &045; said the fire was too far advanced for him to control.

&uot;I tried to put it out, but it was too late &045; it could have been burning for about 15 minutes before we noticed it,&uot; said Chapman.

No other injuries were reported in the incident.

The two-story structure on West Howard Street was built in 1888 to serve as a railway hotel.

&uot;We believe it was one of the oldest railway houses in the state,&uot; said Chapman.

During World War II, soldiers’ wives stayed at the hotel when they came to visit their husbands who were stationed at nearby Camp Van Dorn.

The Centreville Fire Department received Chapman’s call at 9:14 p.m., and arrived at the scene at 9:20 p.m., according to dispatcher Kay McGraw. McGraw said fire departments from surrounding towns also responded to the call Monday night, and Centreville firefighters were called back to control flare-ups on Tuesday morning.

The Chapmans were unsure Tuesday morning of the cause of the blaze but were busy salvaging furniture and other belongings from the smoldering wood-frame structure.

&uot;The safety inspector said he doesn’t want us back in the house.

We are just trying to get all of our stuff stored away first,&uot; said Chapman.

Jacquie Chapman said the response from neighbors and friends has been encouraging.

&uot;Everybody has been so helpful.

That’s one of the joys of living in a small town,&uot; she said.