An Oxford home collapsed in flames Monday before Newton County firefighters could control the blaze, according to the Newton County Fire Department.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, but dispatchers received a call shortly before 8 a.m. When NCFD firefighters arrived on the scene minutes later, they found the Duncan Road house partially engulfed in flames.
"It was not fully involved, but at least 25 to 50 percent of the home was on fire," said NCFD Chief Mike Satterfield.
No one was at home at the time. Homeowner Eric Cureton said he had just arrived at work and his roommate hadn't returned home from the previous night's Poison concert.
About 22 firefighters and eight units battled the blaze until midday.
The fire was particularly challenging because the house had an older, log-cabin core, built in 1865, surrounded by newer additions built in the 1980s.
"We had different types of construction pulled together. It created some difficult firefighting," Satterfield said.
Outside temperatures didn't help either as the baking summer heat sapped the strength of firefighters on the scene as they worked well past noon. One firefighter was transported by ambulance to the hospital and treated for heat exhaustion.
Cureton said he received a call from his realtor a little after 8 a.m. He said he must have had a funny look on his face because his boss asked what was wrong.
"I said 'My house is burning down,'" he recounted. "And he said, 'Well, what are you doing still standing here?'"
But when Cureton arrived, it was too late to do much of anything. He watched helplessly as the flames quickly made their way to the attic, causing his roof to buckle.
Cureton had bought the house - a pretty, yellow clapboard three-bedroom home with shade trees and a blue-tiled swimming pool - with his wife four years ago. But after she passed away in November last year, and since his step-children were grown and on their own, he put it on the market - hoping to downsize to a smaller apartment.
"I was trying to sell it. I didn't want to have to rebuild it," Cureton said, mopping his brow while surveying the damage.
He was able to salvage some of his guns, which firefighters handed to him through a window, and a few electronics, but not much else.
He said he did have family in the area and that the house, which was listed for about $250,000 on a 1.4 acre lot on www.trulia.com, was insured.