Multiple agencies respond to house fire

Wanda English Burnett

Nearly every fire department in the county found themselves called to a house fire at 985 N. Hassmer Hill Road near Versailles on Saturday, June 27.

Homeowners and occupants of the two-story brick structure, Eric and Tara Goddard, were not at home at the time the blaze began. Firemen were called to the scene about 2:14 p.m. when a neighbor spotted the thick smoke and called 911.

According to Chuck Gunter, spokesperson for the Versailles Volunteer Fire Department, the firemen could see the smoke when they arrived at the firehouse. The house and separate garage were fully engulfed when the firemen arrived.

The intense heat from the fire coupled with over 90 degree temperatures complete with extreme humidity, gave firefighters a challenge as they battled the blaze. When in full gear, a fireman carries an additional 60-70 pounds.

Gunter noted that another factor that hampered their efforts was they had to haul in water. Multiple agencies responded to help their fellow firefighters and hauled water to the scene. Five tankers in all brought nearly 100,000 gallons to the scene on a dead end road just past the Cedar Creek Community Church between Osgood and Versailles.

“Everyone worked together,” Gunter told the Osgood Journal. He said most of the departments were short-handed that day, but when everyone came together it made for a force of about 70. He noted that assisting Versailles at the scene were: Osgood, Milan, Napoleon, Delaware, Holton, and Batesville departments. Friendship’s department went on standby and Dillsboro was called to man the station at Versailles in case there was another fire in the area.

One fireman was taken to Margaret Mary Community Hospital due to heat exhaustion where he was treated and released. There were no other injuries.

Also at the scene were Rescue 69 to assist firefighters, and the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office to control traffic. Rescue 30 went on standby to cover Rescue 69’s territory.

It was a true community effort as everyone pulled together on one of the hottest days of the summer. According to Red Cross Director Sandy Vanderbur, they assisted by taking donated food from McDonald's to the firemen and are also contacting the family to see if they can be of further assistance to them.

The Goddards lost everything in the fire that left nothing but rubble and a chimney standing. Also, Jason Goddard, brother of the homeowner, lived in an apartment above the garage that burned.
The heavy road traffic from fire vehicles along with the heat caused damage to Hassmer Hill Road. According to Ripley County Highway Superintendent Junior Heaton, the county hauled stone to repair the roadway. “It couldn’t be helped,” he noted. “It’s just one of those things.”


Firefighters were on the scene three hours after the initial call still putting out hot spots at this house fire on Hassmer Hill Road near Versailles. There were multiple agencies called to the fire that destroyed the home of Eric and Tara Goddard. The intense heat from the fire, along with the extremely high temperatures on Saturday, June 27 made it hard for firefighters to battle the blaze. They also had to truck in water. The cause of the fire had not been determined at press time and was under investigation according to the Versailles Volunteer Fire Department who took the initial call.