Update: Fire Damages Historic Bristoe Station Structure

| April 4, 2013 | 0 Comments | News

The view of the old station building/farm house on side which sustained most of the damage from the fire.

An unoccupied historic structure at 10707 General Kirkland Drive in Bristow caught fire around 7:20  p.m. Tuesday and was quickly extinguished by Prince William Fire & Rescue units.

“Upon arrival on the scene, fire and rescue units discovered an unoccupied two-story 20 by 30 foot wood framed single family house on fire. Units engaged in firefighting operations and were able to gain control of the fire quickly,” said Information Specialist Kim Y. Hylander with Prince William County Fire & Rescue.

No injuries were reported. However, due to the location of the fire, railway traffic on Norfolk Southern was temporarily stopped. The railroad resumed its normal travel schedule after incident command determined the operation could be conducted safely.

Prince William County Police assisted with traffic.

According to Hylander, the estimated damage to the historic house is approximately $5,000.

The wooden historic structure is located behind the landmark White Elephant Antique and Book Shop on Bristow Road. The house sits on property managed by the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park and owned by Prince William County. Despite significant damage, it remains standing.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but a nearby resident said he has seen children around 9-13 years of  age playing in the structure and has chased them off on occasion. He believes they may have either purposefully or accidentally started the fire by playing with matches or leaving lit cigarettes lying around.

The Fire Marshall has not confirmed this. Battalion Chief Curt Brodie from the Office of the Fire Marshall said the cause of the fire “is still being reviewed by our investigator.”

Brendon Hanafin, chief of the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division, said the house became the property of Prince William County when they purchased an additional six acres to extend the Bristoe Battlefield.

“We don’t know a lot about the building. It’s probably from the 1880’s, probably served as a commercial building for the Bristoe Station town during its heyday,” said Hanafin.

The structure, which caught fire, stands behind the White Elephant shop on Bristow Road near the railroad tracks in what was known as Bristoe Station.

He said those at his division believe it served as a residential home in the 1930s, but that it has not been occupied since that time.

According to Hanafin, his Division has not encouraged people to visit the house, since it is located so close to the railroad tracks and was built after the Civil War. His Division had even considered demolishing it.

“Ultimately, we were looking at doing that anyway; we just hadn’t made our mind up,” Hanafin said.

The Historic Preservation Division had decided originally to leave the house standing when they razed a number of nearby structures on Bristoe Battlefield land.

“We left that one standing, because it was structurally in good shape,” Hanafin said.

Now, he expects the structure will be demolished, although his office is awaiting a recommendation from the Fire Marshall. In the meantime, the structure should be presumed to be unsafe for entry.

Hanafin said he was amazed that the structure did not burn to the ground, but Prince William Fire & Rescue personnel quickly responded and extinguished the fire.

“The fact that the fire department was able to get that out as fast as they did on a wood building in the woods with no water, that’s impressive,” Hanafin said.

There is little fire damage to the western side of the two-story structure.

Viewing the building, one immediately recognizes how well-built the structure must be, despite being built almost entirely of wood. The structure is still intact, still fully standing. And, while the fire destroyed the eastern facade of the structure, from the western view, there are almost no visible signs of fire damage.

If the Historic Preservation Division does design to deconstruct the building, Hanafin said they will recycle and reuse its fixtures, stone foundation and rustic wood facade.

Despite not being a Civil War home, Hanafin said he still thought it was a nice piece of Bristow history.

“It’s a cool old house. It’s frustrating to see anything get damaged.”

There was a fire at the Alabama Cemetery near Bristow Village last year. The Fire Marshall has not said whether he is investigating a connection between the two fires.



© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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