By Michael R. Moser
The owner of a home that was destroyed by fire returned from a holiday trip out of state to discover a safe missing from the residence, leading to speculation that a burglary of the residence and house fire are connected.
Last Friday morning Cumberland County Fire Department responded to a fire at 1531 War Eagle Dr. in the Lake Tansi area and found a two-story house about 80 percent involved in fire.
Three firefighters — aggressively attacking the blaze — became temporarily trapped inside when a portion of the second story collapsed. All escaped without injury.
"We made an aggressive offensive attack on the fire until a major catastrophic collapse occurred with a large section of the second story and roof coming down, trapping three firefighters inside. After accessing and removing the trapped firefighters, we switched to a strictly defensive attack as there was little left to be salvaged...," Assistant Chief John Hall stated in his fire report.
The home belonged to Mark Joseph (Ricky) Stanco and his wife, who were visiting in Indiana for the Thanksving holiday. The Stancos were contacted by church members concerning the fire and immediately returned.
Stanco reported that when the couple left for their trip on Nov. 21, a safe was in the residence. Upon his return on Nov. 24, he found the safe to be missing, according to Investigator David Hamby's report.
Contained in the safe were jewelry, documents, personal identification and an automobile title.
Investigation into the burglary and the fire are continuing, and anyone with information is asked to contact Hamby at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department at 484-6176.