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HILLSVILLE — Talissa Huff could only save herself and her three dogs after her house caught fire Tuesday afternoon.
Her rental home at 2620 Birch Tree Road went up in flames at about 4:48 p.m., when she tried to stoke a fire she had going in a stove in the basement.
“I lost everything,” she said, while volunteer firefighters from the Hillsville and Galax fire departments continued to pour water on the house.
Huff even tried to go back inside and save her children’s baby pictures.
Her face and hands were ashy where black smoke coated them.
She insisted to emergency officials on the scene that she wasn’t hurt.
Mike Musser of the Hillsville Fire Department said that Huff was lucky she didn’t have any injuries.
Emergency officials strongly discourage anybody from trying to go into a house fire to retrieve personal items, he stressed after firefighters wrapped up at the scene. That’s extremely dangerous.
The home was a total loss, Musser confirmed. The blaze began after Huff used alcohol to try to build up the fire in the stove to warm up the house.
Those flames flashed back on her and spread to other parts of the home.
Randy Harmon was the owner of the rental property.
Standing outside in the cold and the wind, Huff worried she would also have to give up her three inside dogs in order to find a new place to live.
She tried to give them away to some emergency officials on the scene. The Gazette contacted the local Humane Society on Wednesday to intervene and find a place for the dogs.
Lauren Self of the Twin County Humane Society said Huff turned the dogs over to the Carroll animal control officer, and their location was unknown Wednesday afternoon.
If they end up in the animal shelter, Self said the Humane Society would rescue them if they were not adopted.
Carroll Emergency Services Director Mike Mock dialed the Wood’s River Chapter of the American Red Cross on his cell phone and handed it to Huff, so she could get help in the aftermath of the fire.
The Red Cross provided Huff with a place to stay for three nights, clothing, food and more, a value of $350 in assistance, according to director Joan Isom.