Fire damages 100-year-old city home

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 16, 2009

A fast-moving fire Sunday afternoon gutted the upper level and broke through the roof of a home that had housed three generations of a Vicksburg family.

The rest of the home at 1223 Forest St., owned by Maxim and Carol Dornbusch, sustained water damage.

The fire broke out around 2:50 p.m. Carol Dornbusch said she was on the ground floor of the house when she heard a loud pop coming from an upstairs bedroom in the house just a block off Drummond. She ran upstairs and found Maxim Dornbusch using towels to try to put out flames in a corner of the room where multiple electrical cords had been plugged into an extension cord.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

She yelled to him to get out of the house, then called 911, grabbed her purse and her dog and ran out.

Also home at the time was Maxim Dornbusch’s nephew, Robert Berryman, 48, who was in the basement.

“The first thing I heard was somebody screaming something,” Berryman said. “Then I heard a crash and realized something was up. I came outside and saw smoke all over the neighborhood.”

Berryman got his dog and his computer and also got out of the house.

Maxim Dornbusch, 69, was treated at the scene for burns to his hands, and was also given oxygen. A few minutes later he was taken to River Region Medical Center, where he was in fair condition this morning, a hospital spokesman said.

Fire Capt. Isaac Smith said three fire engines, a ladder truck, a rescue truck and several ambulances were on the scene with about 14 firefighters and rescue workers who remained until about 9:30 p.m. Firefighters spent about 1 1/2 hours after returning about midnight when hot spots flared, Smith said.

Firefighters battled the flames moving through the home, bracing ladders against upstairs porches and roof sections, but within about 40 minutes the flames broke through the roof.

“It got up into the attic, with all that open space, and it just took off.” Smith said.

Maxim Dornbusch and his sisters, Jane Dornbusch of Vicksburg and Patricia Sistrunk of Okolona, grew up in the house purchased by their parents around 1935 and believed to have been built about 30 years earlier.

“He’s lived there just about all his life,” Carol Dornbusch said. “It’s a real unusual house. The archways and doors are special. There’s a lot of woods behind, so it feels like you are not living in the middle of town.”

Other family members arrived and gathered to watch.

“My brother is not only losing his childhood but everything he’s got, as well,” Jane Dornbusch said. The home contained much of the family’s china, furniture and some of their mother’s jewelry, she said.

“There is a Baldwin mirror in there supposedly from a house of ill repute on China Street,” she said.

“It’s just been home all my life,” Jane Dornbusch’s daughter, Liesel Anderton, said.

The cause of the blaze had not been determined, Smith said.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at