WINCHESTER — A fire called in at 5:17 p.m. on Friday displaced six people at two homes.

The fire began in a two-floor, wood-framed, two-family home at 609 S. Cameron St., and was called in by a police officer and neighbors, according to Fire Chief William A. Garrett.

He said the fire, which occurred on a windy evening, spread next door to 611 S. Cameron St. where three people were home. They escaped and there were no serious injuries to residents in either home or to firefighters. The family at 611 S. Cameron St. is receiving temporary housing assistance from the American Red Cross Shenandoah Valley Chapter.

Jack Tensley, who lived at 609 S. Cameron St.. said he was home in his second-floor apartment when the fire began. He said he smelled what he thought was someone cooking on a charcoal grill in the backyard. But when he heard a smoke detector ring and saw smoke, he went to his back porch. "I opened the door and it was like a wall of fire," he said.

Tensley said he slammed the door, ran back into his apartment, grabbed his dog Gunner and ran downstairs. After getting Gunner harnessed, Tensley, a 32-year-old paramedic and clinical coordinator of the paramedic program at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College at Martinsburg, W.Va., went back to see if his first-floor neighbor had escaped, which she had. He was then treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics.

As Tensley was breathing through an air mask around the corner from his home on East Monmouth Street at about 5:40 p.m., smoke was billowing from the roof of 609 S. Cameron St. and flames could be seen near the chimney.

A firefighter in the backyard climbed a ladder about 20 feet while carrying a chainsaw and cut a hole in the attic causing black smoke to pour out. He then climbed back up with a pike pole to clear debris before dropping it to a fellow firefighter. A hose was then carried up and the attic was doused.

At 6 p.m., smoke was still billowing from 609 S. Cameron St., but the fire appeared to be under control. Garrett said on Friday night that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at

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