Officials: Combination of wind, hydrant locations and the size of the fire made the incident difficult for nearly a dozen crews to control

A fire that claimed a trio of homes early Sunday morning on Waterway Road in Sneads Ferry is under investigation.

A combination of wind, difficult hydrant locations and the sheer size of the fire made the incident difficult for nearly a dozen crews to control.

“The amount of fire involved, and where the hydrants were, which was a good distance away, mixed with wind made it hard to knock this fire in the head,” Onslow County Fire Marshal Brian Kelly said. “They did it though.”

The report of the fires came in at 3:45 a.m. Sunday.

The response team of Turkey Creek, Holly Ridge, North Topsail and Verona was on scene within six minutes, impressive considering the residual effects of Hurricane Matthew still in the area Kelly said.

Once they arrived and saw the severity of the situation, additional tankers to carry water were called in to assist in the efforts of knocking down the blaze.

Tankers from Camp Lejeune, Half Moon, Pumpkin Center, Haws Run, Surf City and Rhodestown responded to help, and remained on scene with the other departments until 10 a.m. Sunday.

“The first structure was pretty much on the ground when they (fire crews) got here,” Kelly said. “It had significantly burned by then. Fire could be seen in every window and door and it had started to burn the third home when they arrived.”

The fire originally started at 249 Waterway Drive and wind drove the blaze into 247 and eventually 245.

Only one of the homes’ families was home at the time of fire.

The family was safely evacuated and made the initial call to 911.

“All three of the home owners are insured to my knowledge,” Kelly said. “All of the families have alternate homes at the moment.”

One family's pet cat died in the fire.

A total loss for the properties and the contents of the homes was valued at $1.35 million Kelly said.

“We assessed the structures alone at $790,000 for all three homes,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Alligator Bay resident Tony Hewett said his heart goes out to his neighbors who lost their homes.

“This is just devastating,” he said. “These are our friends. These people are all just so nice. We’re all just so devastated. This is three beautiful homes lost.”

The community has begun discussion of how to help the families.