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Garden City man loses home in fire

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Virgil Walls watched firefighters try to save his burning home Tuesday afternoon, comforted by neighbors who were able to save one of his pets but nothing else.

Walls had lived at 589 Dawson St., south of Garden City, for about 35 years.

He wasn’t home when the fire started at 3:50 p.m. but arrived to find flames and heavy smoke engulfing the one-bedroom structure.

Firefighters at the scene did not speculate on what might have caused the fire.

However, some of them heard some small explosions after arriving at the scene. Neighbors said the house was heated with kerosene, and they believed the canisters were exploding in the flames.

Neighbor Melissa Polly called 911 after she saw flames coming from the home. She and her family were able to rescue one of Walls’ dogs from a porch.

Four other dogs and a number of cats died in the fire, Walls said.

“His wife died (several years ago), and all he had left was his dogs,” Polly said.

Walls, who is a handyman who works on rental properties, watched in silence as Columbus Township firefighters poured water on his home, trucked to the scene in tankers by volunteer firefighters from Harrison, Wayne and Southwest townships. Columbus Fire Department also assisted.

“Everything is gone,” Walls said as he watched the firefighters.

Neighbors said they would provide Walls with a place to stay. Walls said his home was not insured.

Duke Energy workers arrived to shut off electricity to the home when firefighters became concerned that power lines could fall on them or neighboring houses.

Despite temperatures in the teens, neighbors gathered in small groups in their driveways watching the firefighting effort and expressing their condolences to Walls.

Carl Skaggs, who lives down the street from Walls and whose parents lived in the home years ago, estimated that the house was at least 60 years old.

“The guy didn’t have much, but he had a home,” Skaggs said, watching as smoke billowed over the structure and firefighters attacked it with water on two sides.

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