Bedford family questions firefighter response after losing historic home

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BEDFORD, Va. The Tumas family called it their sanctuary.

"It was a beautiful old house and we put a lot of work into it," Jewel Tumas said of her home on Montevideo Road, south of Bedford. She and her family moved to the property in 2002 from Chicago and carried out extensive renovations.

The Tumas' work and more than 185 years of history went up in smoke Wednesday night. Jewel Tumas had been out milking goats when she returned home and found her back deck on fire.

She called 911 and firefighters showed up within 10 minutes.

"I thought great the fire department is here and they are going to save my house!" Tumas explained.

But firefighters say it was too late. Chief Brad Creasy of the Bedford Fire Department said the entire house was on fire by the time his crews arrived.

The house was made of logs that were dry from age and highly flammable.

"I'm very upset because my parents lost absolutely everything," said the Tumas' son, Nathan, who briefly volunteered as a firefighter and believes more could have been done to save his parent's home.

Tumas said firefighters showed up without any water, but Creasy said that's not true. He said his first truck had more than 750 gallons on board, which were used to keep a propane tank in front of the house from exploding.

Tumas wanted crews to pull water from a swimming pool in the back yard.

"They could have pulled 10,000 gallons of water from it and they did nothing," Tumas told WDBJ7.

Creasy said firefighters couldn't get their equipment, which weights about 42,000 pounds, close enough to draft water from the pool. He said firefighters brought 8,750 gallons of water to fight the fire, which was used quickly.

With only a dry hydrant nearby, Creasy said little else could be done.

It's unlikely the Tumas family will be able to rebuild. Their insurance lapsed and they had no coverage to protect the house.

"I love the area, but I don't know what we're going to do," Jewel Tumas said. "I've got chimneys but not much else."