Fire claims local home family pet

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, April 4, 2013

    A Wednesday morning fire at 86 Greenwood Lane claimed the home of Jeff and Beth Brister.

     Firefighters responded to the call around 11:30 a.m. to find the house engulfed in flames.

     “It was already through the roof,” Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks said. “By the time we got there, we were behind. It was hard to stop.”

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     Volunteer Fire Departments throughout the county arrived with water tankers to assist the Brookhaven Fire Department with the blaze.

     Loyd Star, New Sight, East Lincoln, Hog Chain and Bogue Chitto VFDs were all on the scene.

     Elaine Brister, mother of homeowner Jeff, was thankful for all of the efforts made by the firefighters, but partially attributes the total loss to the city’s inadequate public services.

     A section of Greenwood Lane was part of the 2007 annexation by the city of Brookhaven. The first six homes located on the road, including the Bristers’, are within city limits.

     “The only hydrant in our area of the street belongs to Topisaw Creek rural water,” she said. “And it didn’t have the kind of pressure it should have had to put the fire out.”

     Chief Weeks said the hydrant was working sufficiently, but the magnitude of the fire required more water from tankers. 

     Jeff Brister is a mechanical superintendent on an offshore oilrig in Australia and had left his home the day before to report for work overseas. His wife, Beth, was home at the time of the fire but managed to escape.

     “She was walking out of the bedroom when she noticed the wall between the utility room and bedroom was engulfed in flames,” her mother-in-law said. “The smoke and fire was so bad, all she could do was get out.”

     Beth attempted to call for the family dog, Piper, but she could not coax the dog out. Piper was lost in the fire.

     Weeks said the cause of the blaze is undetermined at this time, but Brister speculated that it may have been sparked by an electrical issue with the water heater.

     Firefighters remained on the scene until 3:02 p.m. but returned at 12 a.m. to respond to a re-kindle.