By Tia Lynn Ivey
A historic home in Madison burned to the ground late Monday evening after a neighbor noticed the house consumed in flames called for help.
“The house was a total loss,” said Madison Fire Chief Tim Carter. “We were called out there around midnight. The house was fully ablaze and fully collapsed before anyone noticed and called it in.” Fire officials could not determine the cause of the fire, nor do they believe much of an investigation into it will be pursued.
“When a house has burned to the ground like that, there is not really anything left to investigate that could tell us where and how the fire began,” explained Carter. However, since the house was unlived in, without running electricity, and there was no lightning storms that evening, Carter noted that the fire was most likely started either by accident or on purpose by someone trespassing at the property.
The house was first build in 1850 as part of the short-lived Madison Steam Mill plant built nearby. The house was then occupied by the steam mill manager. After the Steam Mill went out of business, the house was used to hold prisoners of war during the Civil War, before being used as a Civil War hospital.
“It’s a very sad loss, because it was significant to the Civil War history of Madison,” said Ken Kocher, preservation planner for the City of Madison.
After the Civil War, the house was surrounded by cotton farmland, and then later peach farmland. It eventually became a residential rental property for decades before it became vacant. The property is currently owned by the Pritchard family.
The fire took over three hours to extinguish with 15 firefighters hosing it down. Because of the house’s location near the railroad tracks, there was no water availability on the same side as the house.
“We had to hook our ladder truck up on the opposite side of the tracks and shoot the water 165 feet to reach the house,” said Carter.
No one was injured in the fire.
““It was in such a secluded place, it’s always been a struggle to keep vandals out of it. We are glad no one was hurt, but it is such a shame to see this house, with all its history, gone,” said Kocher.