Fire destroys renovated 1924 home

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

Fire Capt. Bill Dunaway guides a hose and Lt. Richard Wilson stands by as flames rise up to 50 feet from the house built in 1924.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[7/17/03]Riki Masterson has her puppy to thank today for saving her from a fire that shot flames 50 feet into this morning’s moonlit sky and destroyed the home she and her husband share on Oak Street.

Masterson said her rat terrier puppy, Buddy, woke her about 2:30 this morning by jumping on her and barking.

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“I just thought he needed to go outside,” she said. But when the two went back inside the house, she said, Buddy continued to growl and then she smelled smoke.

She and Buddy, the only two at home when the fire broke out, left the house and called 911. Neither was injured.

The fire, reported at 2:41 a.m., destroyed the home at 3600 Oak St. that Masterson and her husband, Tad Masterson, spent more than three years renovating.

The couple, married for 30 years, began renovations on the house after moving to Vicksburg from Las Vegas in February 2000.

They added 1,300 square feet to the home, which featured an indoor barbecue grill, a Jacuzzi bathtub and three ovens in the kitchen.

“We worked on it, and worked on it, and we finally got it the way we wanted it,” Masterson said. “It was gorgeous.”

The house, built in 1924, is one of several in the Oak and Mattingly street area that have been renovated during an attempt over the past few years to upgrade the decaying neighborhood.

The house was for sale because Tad Masterson, who had come to Vicksburg as a Harrah’s Casino employee, has been transferred to Lake Charles, La., and was there when the fire broke out.

From the house, firefighters saved a grandfather clock and an armoire, each more than 200 years old, said Vicksburg Fire Chief Keith Rogers.

He said firefighters were able to prevent damage to the home next door when flames nearly 50 feet high could have caught the home on fire.

The fire is under investigation to determine the cause, but no foul play was suspected, Rogers said.