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Owner of group home destroyed by fire trying to arrange living accommodations for residents
Fire and rescue personnel finish putting out a fire that destroyed a group home in North Stafford on Monday.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY KATIE THISDELL
Temporary living accommodations are being arranged for seven adults with special needs until their burned-out group home can be rebuilt, an official with the home said Tuesday.
The single-story home consumed by fire Monday in North Stafford was just 3 years old. It had been designed specifically to meet the needs of adults with limited mobility, with wide doors for wheelchairs and walkers, said Suzanne France, program director of Heritage House of Virginia.
Staff members already have plans to rebuild the group home where seven adults were living, she said.
"For now, we're working with families and getting the OK to temporarily place them in other group homes," France said.
More than 55 people work for Heritage House, which has an office on Garrisonville Road and seven group homes in the region that serve 34 adults.
The 12-year-old family-run business is licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
Fire officials said failure to properly dispose of smoking materials led to the blaze, which caused $339,000 in damage.
When crews from across Stafford and other localities arrived at the Monday afternoon fire on Whispering Pines Lane off Shelton Shop Road, flames had already consumed the entire building, and the roof soon fell in.
Within 40 minutes the fire was contained. A stretch of Shelton Shop Road was closed for several hours as rescue vehicles lined the side. A hose was stretched down the length of Whispering Pines Lane to provide water to the house.
No one was in the 2,000-square-foot house when the two-alarm fire broke out.
During the day, residents of the group home are in individual programs, including jobs. On Monday a few were at the Redskins training camp, getting autographs and watching the football players practice.
France said the staff worked to help residents with the transition.
"We met with them and explained what was going on and what had happened," France said. "We reminded them that we're still here to take care of them and meet their needs."
The adults were moved to the other six Heritage House group homes in the area, where they had friends and familiar staff.
France said comprehensive emergency plans were in place and were followed from the time staff first learned of the fire.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975