MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. -- Firefighters say a Gaston County couple is lucky to be alive after their house burned to the ground Friday morning on Fox Trail Drive in Mount Holly.
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It appears a wood burning stove that was the couple's only source of heat caught the floor on fire, investigators said.
Also, that if the couple hadn't woken up to the smell of smoke when they did, minutes later they likely would have died from smoke inhalation.
Firefighters say the house had smoke detectors, but no working batteries in them.
The house was already halfway engulfed by flames by the time the first tanker truck arrived and started spraying the house with water.
The house is in an unincorporated area of Gaston County, meaning it does not have county water mains or fire hydrants in the neighborhood.
Several tankers going back and forth to a hydrant a mile and a half away helped.
"We had continuous spray of water. We always had water. We ran close a couple of times,” said Lucia-Riverbend Fire Chief David Toomey.
"You could see flames starting to come out of the house. It was just a horrible situation," neighbor Charles Black said.
Cold weather played somewhat of a role in fighting the fire.
Black says he tried to spray water from his garden hose, but it was frozen.
Firefighters say there's been talk for years about getting hydrants into that area. But unincorporated means there aren't hydrants like you would have in city limits and neighbors know that.
Firefighters don't think a closer hydrant would have made a difference, plus the house was crammed full of belongings which fueled the fire.