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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A historic house in Winston-Salem was reduced to rubble after a massive fire.

Winston-Salem firefighters were called out to a fire at a two-story house on North Patterson Avenue early Sunday morning.  

The house was in the midst of renovations to be transitional housing for primarily foster children aging out of the system, according to a representative for Habitat Homeless Veteran’s Project, which owns the property. 

Winston-Salem Battalion Chief Scott Gauldin told FOX8that it was a challenge to get the blaze under control. His focus was on protecting the surrounding houses. 

“Everything was burning from top to bottom, left to right, that could possibly burn,” he said.

The heat from the intense flames damaged neighboring houses.

“If the heat from a residential structure fire can affect the houses across the street and melt vinyl then it’s a tremendous amount of heat,” Gauldin said. 

Doris Jones felt it when she stepped out on her front porch to see what happened.

“The only thing you could see was just flames,” Jones said. “When we got out it was like heat hit us. We couldn’t even stand directly in front.” 

Gauldin told FOX8 that the water from one hydrant flowed, helping crews spray a barrier between the fire and nearby houses. 

“I knew at that time to protect the two houses on both sides of the structure,” Gauldin said. “We were going to have to have a lot of water in a short amount of time.”

A second hydrant malfunctioned, slowing down their efforts. It forced firefighters to move to another block to find a new water supply. 

“The hydrant that we ended up having to use was approximately 500 to 600 feet away,” he said. “When we get that long of a lay, we try to put an engine truck in between the hydrant and the engine that it’s supplying to get as much water as we can out of the hydrant.” 

A malfunctioning hydrant is rare. Gauldin said fire crews test them every year. 

The surrounding houses were saved, and some sustained minor damage. Jones told FOX8 that the quick thinking by firefighters made a difference. 

“It would’ve been a whole lot worse if they hadn’t been able to run water from somewhere else,” she said. 

A spokesperson for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities told FOX8 that a technician is planning to check the malfunctioning hydrant. 

A representative for Habitat Homeless Veteran’s Project told FOX8 they do not know what’s next for the property. 

Investigators have not pinpointed a cause for the fire.